Organism of the day #6

NAME:
Stinking corpse lily, or Rafflesia

SCIENTIFIC NAME:
Rafflesia arnoldii

KINGDOM:
Walking the edge of Plantae and Fungi, but identified as Plantae

FUN FACT:
The mystical Rafflesia is a flower. One without leaves, roots, or a stem.

CONSERVATION STATUS:
Endangered

SIZE AND PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:
The captivating Rafflesia is the largest known individual flower on earth, meaning it grows completely alone. The creepy flower bursts from its host tree’s bark, being up to a whopping 1 meter in diameter, weighing up to 11 kilograms (24 lbs). The monstrous flower possesses red-brown flesh that occasionally bears white spots. Similarly, the petals are a maroon red and littered in white spots. In the center of the flower, there’s a depression that can be several inches deep. The plant forms from buds that are around 30 cm (1 ft) wide, with the largest bud (also the largest bud ever found) being 43 cm or 1’ 5”. However, more of the flower lies beneath the surface. With its properties, it would seem like the plant would be a fungus. The plant develops with thread-like strands penetrating deep into the host plant. It only emerges from its host when it's ready to reproduce. Funnily enough, the only thing that marks this plant as a plant is the plant-like flowers, which themselves are odd because of the massive proportions.

STENCH:
Like another monstrous flower, the corpse flower, the Rafflesia emits a putrid stink when in full bloom, one that smells of rotting flesh. The horrid stink is in place to attract flies to pollinate the flower, which is attracted by the smell of rotting flesh.

REPRODUCTION AND LIFE CYCLE:
The Rafflesia is a very rare specimen and finds itself fairly difficult to locate in the flowers it seeks refuge within. This is attributed to the disadvantageous reproduction, where buds take months to develop, bearing a flower that lasts only a few days, limiting the time it has to reproduce. It also relies heavily on specimens of the opposite sex to be within proximity. These straining factors result in the event of successful pollination being rather rare. When Rafflesia finds itself ready to reproduce, a small Rafflesia bud forms outside the root or stem of the host plant and develops throughout the course of a year. The head develops, resembling the appearance of a small red cabbage and eventually blooms to form the monster flower. Within the flower, a stigma is attached to a spiked disk that emits a foul odor to attract flies and beetles for pollination. However, this pollination relies on the insects visiting a male and female Rafflesia. The plant also generates a fruit that produces hundreds of seeds. It serves as a meal for local treeshrews, that also spread the fruit

SOURCES:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafflesia_arnoldii
https://www.britannica.com/plant/monster-flower
http://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:316069-1
https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/flower.html
http://www.rafflesiaflower.com/

IMAGE:
Rafflesia growing on a host’s root