Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rafflesia in Danger !!!

Inside the Rafflesia

Name -- Rafflesia
Scientific Name -- Rafflesia arnoldii
Indonesian Rainforest, Sumatra
Common Name -- Corpse Flower
Colors -- Red & Yellow

This plant is called Rafflesia, this is a very uncommon plant and currently it is on the endangered list. Rafflesias are the single flowers, which means that they consist of only one flower and not many flowers combined. There are about 28 different species of Rafflesia, however Rafflesia can only be found in Southeastern Asia, Borneo, Thailand, Philippines, and Gungnung Gading National Park which is located in Sarawak, Malaysia. It usually grows in rainforests or even the slopes or mountains. Rafflesias can grow up to be about 3 feet across, and it weighs up to 9 KG! That's because it's the largest single flowers in the world.

Different type of Rafflesia
Another type of Rafflesia
Rafflesia is usually red all around, however it is yellow sometimes and it has white, and sometimes black spots all around it. This flower is huge and is a uni flower, however it is a dicot due to the fact that it had five petals. The Rafflesia always seems like it has goose bumps, but it is just like that is that is it's natural look.

Gungnung Gading National Park
Rafflesia opening up

Lonely Rafflesia

Usually when we see flowers we check for the great aroma within it but unusually the Rafflesia smells like dead animals. By doing so this flower attracts all these flies to the plant and the flies then lay their eggs on the flower. The flower then takes those eggs and uses the eggs as pollen when it gets inside of it. Also normal flowers have stems, leaves, and roots, however unusual it may sound, the Rafflesia does not have any true roots, stems, or leaves.Rafflesias were founded in the Indonesian Rainforest by an Indonesian Guide. And this guide was working for Joseph Arnold in 1818. However that was not the first time it was discovered, it was discovered earlier by Louis Deschamps in Java (*Java is an island of Indonesia).
Full grown Rafflesia with Rafflesia buds

There is a reason why this plant is an endangered plant, and that is that this plant needs nearly perfect conditions for it to live and reproduce. But also Rafflesias are parasites which usually don't have leaves, stems, leaves, and they don't produce chlorophyll. Anyways these parasites attach to the Tetrastigma Vine (Grape Family). It is a long process for the plant to reproduce (about 1 year) and it only lives for about a few days and at the most 1 week. The Tetrastigma Vine is the only vine that can be affected by a parasite to make the Rafflesia. Rafflesias are angiosperms which means that they are flowering plants. Angiosperms go through the Sporophyte stage most of it's life, and then on to the Gametophyte stage. Rafflesia is usually used as traditional medicine and usually used to recover after childbirth.

Dying Rafflesia
The question now is how can we save this rare, endangered, and almost exxtint flower. And the answer is stop cutting down rainforests, especially in asia, or places that these flowers grow. Or even go ahead and visit those private museams that grow Rafflesias and ask them for advice on how to grow them at home. These plants eat the eggs and make use of the eggs of flies which we humans usually dislike, and they are disappearing due to the cutting down of rainforests. They are part of our life cycle, and we are responsible for what we do to our habitat, so we should be responsible for keeping them alive. And hey you never know maybe this plant can be put to great uses in the future.

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” 
―Mahatma Gandhi

Manesh Lalwani

For more information on Rafflesia, please feel free to visit the following sites.