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What is the Largest Flower in the World?

Niki Acker
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The world's largest flower is Rafflesia arnoldii, a parasitic plant native to the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia. The flower is five-petaled and dark red with white spots. It is a parasite on the Tetrastigma vine and is pollinated by flies. To attract its pollinators, Rafflesia arnoldii emits a scent like rotting meat, earning it the nickname "corpse flower."

While there are inflorescences that may appear to be a larger flower than Rafflesia arnoldii, they are technically made up of many small flowers. Therefore, only Rafflesia arnoldii can truly be called the largest flower. It can grow up to three feet (.91 m) long and weigh up to 24 pounds (11 kg).

Besides being the world's largest flower, Rafflesia arnoldii has many unusual attributes. The flower is the only visible part of the plant. There are no leaves, stems, or roots. The rest of the plant consists of threadlike fibers completely embedded in the host vine, from which Rafflesia arnoldii gets water and nutrients. Rafflesia arnoldii is similar to fungus in that only its reproductive structure is visible.

The world's largest flower is rare and difficult to find. It takes months to develop and lives for only a few days. Pollination is rare, as the flowers are unisexual, making the proximity between a male and a female plant essential to reproduction. They exist only in primary, or undisturbed, rainforest, as the host vine only grows in such areas. Rafflesia arnoldii has never been cultivated outside of its natural habitat.

Rafflesia arnoldii is currently endangered, as its habitat is being depleted. Environmentalists have attempted to recreate the natural environment of the world's largest flower in order to stimulate its recovery, but they have not yet been successful. Our best chance of preserving Rafflesia arnoldii is to preserve its original habitat, the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a All Things Nature editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
By anon67164 — On Feb 23, 2010

Three feet! Wow, that's large! Check out some pictures of this amazing flower.

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a All Things Nature editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide...
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