Sunday, 5 October 2014

Creature 5: Rafflesia arnoldii

A really big parasitic flower


Rafflesia arnoldii is a plant with a large unusual looking flower from the south-east Asian islands. It is the largest flower in the world, not counting composite flowers. It can grow over 1 meter in diameter and weight over 10 kilograms. Instead of offering a sweet reward in the form of nectar to attract insect pollinators it has adopted a different strategy. It emits a smell like a rotting corpse which attracts the flesh eating insects which act as their pollinators. The plant is completely parasitic and does not produce chlorophyll of its own. When it is not flowering the entire plant is made up of thin parasitic threads living on other plants and absorbing their nutrients. The flower takes 9 months to mature but it only flowers for 5-7 days.

Rafflesia arnoldii is known from the Islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Note here that there are many botanists who don't recognise plant phyla or classes, because traditional grouping at these levels have apparently been shown not to be monophyletic (see my Linnean classification page). They also seem to be unable to erect natural groups at these higher levels which do need meet fierce opposition among botanists. Instead they erect divisions which are based on certain characteristics. I'm not a botanist myself, but I will use old plant phyla and my own variation of the classes in my classifications because it makes thing simpler. In my own variation use an Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. I accept their monocots group as Monocotyledon and interpret their Eudicots as Dicotyledon. I will cross any other bridges as I come to them.

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Angiosperms
Class: Dicotyledon
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Rafflesiaceae
Genus: Rafflesia
Species: Rafflesia arnoldii

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