Rafflesia arnoldii which is a member of genus Rafflesia is the largest flower in the world. It can grow up to a diameter of one meter and weighing up to 11 kilograms. It is a parasitic plant, with no visible leaves, roots, or stem.
It attaches itself to a host plant to obtain water and nutrients. It has earned the nickname "corpse flower" because It emits a repulsive odor, similar to that of rotting meat. It is an endemic plant that occurs only in the rainforest of Bengkulu, Sumatra Island, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Although there are some plants with larger flowering organs like the Titan Arum and Talipot palm, those are technically clusters of many flowers. Rafflesia arnoldii is rare and fairly hard to locate.
It is especially difficult to locate the flower in forests as the buds take many months to develop and the flower lasts for just a few days. The cabbage-like head of the flower that develops eventually opens to reveal the flower. Inside the flower, the stigma or stamen are attached to a spiked disk. Flies and beetles are attracted to a foul smell of rotting meat, to pollinate. The flowers are unisexual and thus proximity of male and female flowers is vital for successful pollination. These factors make successful pollination a rare event.
The fruits produced by the process are round lots filled with smooth flesh including many thousands of hard-coated seeds. These seeds are eaten and spread by tree shrews. In Presidential Decree No. 4 in 1993, It was officially recognized as a national "rare flower". As the remaining primary forests of Borneo and Sumatra disappear, how many of these plants still survive is unknown. But we can safely assume that their numbers are dwindling. Some environmentalists are developing ways to recreate the species' as many are known to be nearing extinction.
French explorer Louis Auguste Deschamps, born in 1765, was the first botanist to find a specimen of a Rafflesia. He was also a member of a French scientific expedition to Asia and the Pacific. He spent three years on Java during his expedition. There he has collected a specimen of R. Patma. His papers and notes were confiscated, during his return voyage in 1798, when his ship was taken by the British. They see the light of the day again when they were rediscovered in the Natural History Museum, London.