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Rafflesia arnoldii, a bloom that smells like rotting meat

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Rafflesia arnoldii. At 111 centimeters (3.64 feet) and up to 15 kilograms (around 33 pounds), it’s the world’s largest flower. Colossal. Massive and malodorous. “It appears to have fur, whiskers and teeth. Its blood-red surface is tough and warty, and it reeks of death.”

Also known as a stinking corpse lily, Rafflesia grows in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. Sir David Attenborough introduces this parasitic plant in a clip from the BBC’s new landmark series The Green Planet.

warty and rough surface
rafflesia arnoldii
Called Planet Earth from the perspective of plants,” The Green Planet is a five-part nature show about “a world where a life can last thousands of years, where there is ingenuity unlike anything we’ve ever seen, where beauty knows no bounds.”

Some background on this rare flower from the Sierra Club:

“For such a bold blossom, the Rafflesia arnoldii remains elusive, spending most of its time hidden within its host’s stems and roots. The flower appears when its buds break through the Tetrastigma vine‘s bark. A cabbage-like head develops, eventually blooming and staying open for only about five days. Rafflesia arnoldii‘s rank smell lures carrion flies. The flies crawl down the male flower’s central chamber toward the anther, which transfers pollen onto their backs as they brush against it. They then carry the pollen to a female flower.”

rafflesia arnoldii
Take a more fun and informal look at another Rafflesia with Maddie Moate and Greg Foot.

Then watch more videos about flowers and parasites:
• Hydnora africana, the strangest plant in the world?
• This giant looks like raw meat and smells like dead rat
• Story of Flowers, a breathtaking botanical animation
The Crazy Cribs of Parasitic Wasps
• Why do lice want to live in your hair?

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