Rafflesia: Another “Corpse Flower”

According to media sources, the Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants which contains approximately 28 species that include four incompletely characterised species as recognised by Willem Meijer in 1997, they are, found in Southeast Asia, primarily in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Louis Deschamps first discovered the plant in Java between 1791 and 1794, but his notes and illustrations were seized by the British in 1803 and were not available to western science until 1861.


The plant has no stems, leaves or roots. It is a holoparasite of vines spreading its absorptive organ, inside the tissue of the vine.

The only part of the plant that can be, seen outside the host vine is the five-petalled flower.

In some species, such as Rafflesia arnoldii, the bulb may be over 39inches in diameter, and weigh up 22 lb.

It is, said that the flowers look and smell like rotting flesh, hence its local names “corpse flower” The foul odour attracts insects such as flies, which transport pollen from male to female flowers.

Most of the species have separate male and female flowers, but there are a few that are hermaphroditic Ther is little is known about seed dispersal.

However, tree shrews and other forest mammals eat the fruits and disperse the seeds.

Rafflesia is the official state flower of Indonesia, where it is known locally as the puspa langka or Padma paksasa.

Thailand, Rafflesia can be seen in Khao Sok National Park where the flowers are numbered and monitored by the park rangers.