What is the Biggest Flower in the World?

by admin on September 19, 2011

Rafflesia arnoldii Photo credit ma_suska

The biggest flower in the world is the Rafflesia arnoldii, a.k.a. the Corpse Flower, so named because when blooming, it smells of rotting flesh. This flower is unusual in design in that it appears to have no stems, leaves or roots. The Rafflesia arnoldii grows as a parasite on the Tetrastigma vine. This flower takes over a  year to blossom, and sadly, is an endangered species. It lives in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia and Malaysia and its habitat is disappearing such that scientists don’t know how many of this plant are left.

The Rafflesia arnoldii is a non-photosynthetic plant; it gathers all the nutrients it needs for growth from the Tetrastigma vine. The Corpse flower blooms to over a meter wide and can weigh up to 11 kg. The stench of rotting meat attracts flies and beetles for pollination. This flower not only smells like a rotting corpse, it looks like flesh as well; with large, blood red petals with white spots.

The Rafflesia arnoldii bud has been eaten as a delicacy in Thailand. It is used in some parts of Malaysia to aid women after childbirth, to staunch bleeding and shrink the uterus, although the chemical properties haven not been extensively studied; so any health claims have not been verified. It may even be toxic as it contains tannin and phenol. Rafflesias have also been used in religious ceremonies.

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