General information

Rafflesia (flower): description and photo

Rafflesia (with indonesia. - "lotus flower") - a genus of flowering plants-parasites, which includes about 28 species. Its range covers the territory of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, the Malacca Peninsula, the islands of Kalimantan, Java and Sumatra.

According to unofficial sources, for the first time, rafflesia was discovered in 1797 on the island of Java by French explorer Louis Auguste Deschamps. However, in 1798, when the British captured his ship, all records and illustrations fell into the hands of the invaders and were not available to Western science until 1954.

The official opening date of this representative of the world of flora falls on 1818. Then he was found in the rainforests of Indonesia in the south-west of Sumatra during an expedition led by a British explorer, Sir Stamford Raffles, after whom the flower got its name. The first unusual plant saw a local guide, assistant doctor and naturalist Joseph Arnold. The specimen found was a huge flower without leaves and a stem that reached a meter in diameter and weighed more than 6 kg. Later this species was named Rafflesia Arnold. Today, he is the most famous representative of the genus and is among the three largest flowers on the planet.

Rafflesia Arnold - a giant plant, blooming single flowers, which can be 60-100 cm in diameter and weigh more than 8-10 kg. The record holder of this species reached a very impressive size - 106.7 cm. And even the smallest variety, Rafflesia baletei, has an average diameter of 12 cm.

A unique plant does not have a stem and leaves, i.e. the main organs involved in photosynthesis. Since rafflesia alone is not able to synthesize vital organic substances, it develops due to parasitism on the tissues (stems and roots) of host plants, which are usually lianas belonging to the Vinogradov family.

The only visible part of the plant is the five fleshy pancake-like petals of an intense red color, covered with randomly arranged white spots. A giant bud blooms right on the ground, emitting at the same time the smell of spoiled meat, from which they received another name - "corpse flower". The unpleasant smell and appearance attract pollinating insects, which are most often forest flies, transporting pollen from a male to a female flower. Most types of raffles are bisexual, but some of them belong to polygamous plants, which can be both bisexual and same-sex.

In the case of fertilization of the female flower and the appearance of the ovary, after 7 months the fruit ripens, containing an average of 2 to 4 million seeds. Further, the fate of rafflesia is decided with the participation of large animals (elephants, wild pigs), which crush the hard fruit and transfer the seeds that are stuck to the limbs to other places.

Small mammals and some insects, including ants, often take part in the process of distribution. From a huge number of seeds, only one or two germinates, overcoming a long way of development.
After the seed of the parasitic flower falls on the liana, its bark begins to swell only 1.5-3 years later, forming a kind of bud, which soon turns into a bud that matures about 9 more months. When the time comes, it opens into a huge brick-red flower. Despite the long process of development, the lifespan of rafflesia has a very short time — only 2-4 days. After this time, only a black shapeless mass remains from the flower.

Today, all species of this plant are under threat of extinction, the reason for this is the massive deforestation of tropical forests under the plantation, which is rapidly reducing the growing places of exotic representatives of the flora world.

In Indonesia, Suratthani province, Thailand, and the state of Sabah, Malaysia, rafflesia is officially awarded the title of national flower.

The history of the discovery of rafflesia

Officially, rafflesia was discovered in 1818. The flower was found in the tropics of Indonesia, on the island of Sumatra. The expedition, which discovered the plant, was headed by Sir S. Raffles. An unusual flower was first seen by a conductor, assistant naturalist D. Arnold. The specimen that was found impressed with its enormous size. And the flower had no stem and roots. Found plant got its name by the name of the expedition leader and doctor-naturalist.

Areola spread

Rafflesia has more than thirty different species. This plant is found only in Southeast Asia. Arnoldi rafflesia flower grows only on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. All other species are in Java, the Philippines and Malacca. Giant flowers grow only in the jungle, but due to their massive felling, the plants may soon disappear completely from our planet.

Flower description

The biggest flower is rafflesia. It belongs to the parasitic species. The flower does not have a stem and leaves, and is mounted on suckers. They are inside the plant. With the help of suckers, rafflesia provides itself with essential nutrients for life.

The only part of the plant that is visible is the flower. It grows through the bark. The flower grows from 60 to 100 centimeters in diameter, its weight reaches eight kilograms. Color - brown-reddish, with large white spots. The size of the flowers depends on the type of plant.

For example, the weight of the arnoldi rafflesia can be up to ten kilograms, and the diameter of the opened bud can be up to one meter. In patma it is much smaller - only thirty centimeters. The color diameter of the rafflesia rhizantes and sapriya fluctuates between 10-20 cm.

Rafflesia is a flower that has five fleshy petals with a thickness of three centimeters each, which are attached to the core in the form of a bowl. In its center is a column (or column), expanding upwards. There is a disk covered with spikes.

Flower reproduction

Rafflesia has fruits that resemble huge berries, which contain a lot of seeds (up to four million). Of course, they are inedible, and they are easy to poison. The plant itself can not multiply. He is helped by insects and animals. They attack the fruits and spread the seeds through the jungle. Insects are also attracted by the bright color and smell. When moving, their paws fall into the furrow, and the seeds stick with sticky pollen. But even out of a million spores, only dozens sprout.

The victims of the plant are mostly trees that have stalks or roots damaged. At the same time they do not harm. Rafflesia is a giant flower, but it grows slowly. The place to which the plant stuck begins to swell after a year. This period may be eighteen months. Full bud appears in about 2-3 years.

Raffles pollinate mostly flies. They are attracted by the putrid smell emanating from the flower. The plant itself lives long. The bud can ripen within three years, and a few more months are required to open the flower. His life after opening the bud lasts only a few days. Then the flower gradually begins to rot, turning into a black shapeless mass.

After the process is completed, a new ovary is formed. It develops within seven months. Then a small fruit appears on the site of the ovary, resembling a huge berry. It contains very small seeds the size of a poppy seed.

Use of rafflesia

Rafflesia flower, the photo of which is in this article, is used in traditional medicine. The plant is used for recovery after childbirth. Also, flowers are used as an aphrodisiac. Properties that are attributed to him, have no scientific evidence.

Interesting Facts

Residents of the islands of the Philippines and Indonesia are convinced that rafflesia (a giant flower) contributes to the return of potency. Women after childbirth to extract the slim figure make an extract from the plant buds. The same tool has long been used by the natives as a hemostatic natural drug.

In Malaysia, there is a nature reserve park in which rafflesia is grown specially. And in many varieties. For the constant attraction of tourists, the terms for opening the rafflesia buds are selected so that in the high season you can admire the magnificent giant flower. Of course, this increases the interest of tourists to this country.

Rafflesia has a competitor - amorphophallus titanic. It has the highest inflorescence. The plant produces an unpleasant smell, and the width of the flowers is as close as possible to the size of the rafflesia.

Dead lotus

Rafflesia belongs to the parasitic flowering plants of the Rafflesian family, and has more than 30 species. It grows only on the territory of Southeast Asia: these are mainly the islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, in the Philippines, and on the Malay peninsula. Representatives of this family can be found only in the jungle, whose area is rapidly decreasing due to massive deforestation of tropical forests, and therefore all species are endangered.

These amazing plants are notable primarily because the flowers of some species, for example, Arnold's rafflesia, weigh from eight to ten kilograms and have record sizes in diameter - about a meter, being the widest flower on earth. True, not all species of this flower have similar dimensions. There is another type of plant, the flowers of which are also classified as large - Patma with an inflorescence diameter of 30 cm. But the sizes of such representatives of the Rafflesian family as Sapria and Rhizantes range from 10 to 20 cm.

The family itself was named in honor of Thomas Stamford Raffles, the head of the expedition on the island of Sumatra, who became famous for the fact that he founded Singapore. But the first plant found was Rafflesia Arnold - it got its name thanks to Joseph Arnold, who participated in the same expedition.

Interestingly, the locals called this plant “lotus flower”, “deadly lily”, “scavenger flower”, “dead lotus” and used as a medicine: women drank bud extract to restore the figure after childbirth, and men used rafflethia flowers to enhance potency.

The plant discovered by Joseph Arnold was small for its kind, but it was already impressive: its diameter was about ninety centimeters, and it weighed no more than six kilograms. Subsequently, botanists found larger specimens. The maximum diameter of the flower, which was recorded by scientists, was 106.7 cm - and at the moment it is the widest discovered flower of our planet.

Biological features of the plant

Despite the fact that, according to external signs, Arnoldi's rafflesia very much resembles a huge flower, in reality it isn’t, since being a parasite plant, does not need photosynthesis, and therefore leaves, stems and roots that are actively involved in this process big flower in the world does not have.

The nutrients in which Rafflesia Arnoldi needs for full development, she gets, feeding on the juice of her “master” with the help of suckers. Therefore, the "owner" on which the parasite will live for several years, chooses very carefully and treats it carefully, without causing any special harm.

In the role of the “host” of rafflesia, only the type of plants is suitable, the sap of the roots of which can awaken its seeds. Then the "host plant" will determine the direction of growth of suckers, with which the parasite will take the substances it needs.

Grow the largest flower in the world prefers on the vine from the genus Cissus or on trees, part of the root system of which emerged to the surface. Once on these plants, the seeds of rafflesia produce thin threads and penetrate under the bark of the “host” in no way harming him.

Rafflesia life

After the seeds of rafflesia with the help of suckers roots are introduced into the liana, they do not manifest themselves for a year and a half (seeds that could not penetrate into the bark of a tree die with time).

After eighteen months, a kidney-like thickening begins to form on the roots or stem of the host. When the growth reaches the size of a child's cam, it opens up - a bud appears with brick-red petals. Usually, rafflesia Arnoldi spends at least three years on this process.

To mature and transform into a flower, a bud takes from nine to eighteen months. The blooming flower of Arnold's rafflesia has five petals about 3 cm thick and 45 cm long.

These petals are usually red or brown in color and covered with a huge number of white warty growths and spots. Despite the long maturation, the flower itself lives no more than four days, after which it begins to decompose, and the rafflesia of Arnold soon transforms into a black shapeless mass.

Having blossomed, rafflesia emits the smell of rotten meat, attracting to itself the flies, which it uses for pollination. Insects, being on the flower disk, covered with small flexible spines, entangled in them.

Trying to get out, they fall below and end up in the annular groove, and from there the finest hairs direct them to the stamens. Those, in turn, stick sticky pollen on the fly, after which the insects, trying to take off, find themselves in flowers, thereby fertilizing the ovules (these plants are mostly bisexual).

The fruits of Arnold rafflesia have a berry-like shape and consist of a viscous mass, a pulp, in the middle of which is from 2 to 4 million small seeds. In order to ripen, the fetus takes about seven months, and the mature seeds are looking for a suitable “host” in a rather interesting way: after an animal comes and crushes the ripe fruit, seeds instantly stick to its limbs, thereby starting the “search” for the suitable plants. Lucky, however, not all.

Discovery history

This amazing plant originally from Southeast Asia has several other names that the locals gave it - “scavenger flower”, “dead lotus”, “stone lotus”, and “deadly lily”.

Rafflesia was discovered in 1818, when one of the flowers grew up to 90 cm in diameter and 6 kg - these dimensions already impressed the expedition team. The dead lotus was discovered during the exploration of Sumatra. The group leader Thomas Raffles, who is also the founder of Singapore, noticed a strange plant. In his honor, and called the family of plants. But the first flower discovered was named after one of the members of the expedition, Joseph Arnold - Rafflesia Arnoldi.

The inhabitants of the island used flower infusions for medicinal purposes - to restore the female body after childbirth and to improve the male power.

The width of the largest representative of the stone lotus is almost 107 cm. There is no larger flower on the planet.

Now rafflesia can be found in the jungle not only on the island where it was found, but also on the islands of Kalimantan, Java, Malacca, and also in south-east Asia.

When opened, the bud lives only up to 4 days, and after flowering it begins to decompose. It is difficult not to recognize him: a large round depression in the shape of a bowl is surrounded by 5 fleshy petals. Inside the groove is a collection of stamens and carpels.

From the base, which is called the disk, is the expansion of the recess upwards. The disk is covered with spikes. From the plant is the smell, like from rotten meat. It attracts insects such as flies for pollination.

There are about 30 types of rafflesia - each of them has its own characteristics. The smallest, rafflesia patma, has flowers up to 30 cm, and in tuan-mude they are already about 1 m. The color of flowers is bright red and brown with spots on the background.

Features of the plant

Rafflesia grows and lives by the so-called master. Most often it is creepers or roots of trees that hit the surface of the earth.

Rafflesia chooses her place of residence very carefully, since she will eat only thanks to the second plant. To do this, she has a sucker on the roots, which absorb all the nutrients, while the owner does not die.

After hitting the desired plant, thin processes that are located under the bark of the nursing plant come out of the seeds. How small seeds penetrate the plant itself is still a mystery.

Flower life

For almost a year and a half, the seed inside the host does not make itself felt - with the help of suckers on its roots, it feeds on all the necessary substances. After the seed ripens, a kidney appears at the site of introduction - a peculiar growth on the bark. Sometimes it takes up to 3 years from sowing to growth. This is the future flower bud that matures from 9 months to 1.5 years.

Now the exotic plant is under threat of extinction: permanent deforestation of tropical forests reduces the number of places for the life of rafflesia.

We have learned that rafflesia in the jungle can be found according to this characteristic: when it blooms, it is enough to be guided by the smell of spoiled meat. But since the flowering period does not last very long - only the lucky ones can get lucky to meet this strange lily.

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