21 Rafflesia Arnoldii Flower Facts (The Largest Flower in the World)

Rafflesia Arnoldii is the Latin name for an obligate parasites of plants known for having very large flowers. Locally known as “Padma Raksasa” and “Bunga Bangkai” in Indonesia.

Its a parasitic plant that grows on plant tissues (liana) Tetrastigma and do not have leaves of their own, therefore, can not photosynthesize.

Rafflesia arnoldii also known to be called Kerubut (Devil’s Betelnut Box). Dan Nickrent, botanist from the ‘Southern Illinois University’ of Carbondale, is known this plant by “queen of all the parasitic organisms”.

Rafflesia Arnoldi is one of Indonesian National flower, along with the white jasmine and moon orchid. Rafflesia Arnoldi  officially declared as a national “rare flower” (Indonesian: puspa langka) in Presidential Decree No. 4 in 1993.

So, here are few interesting fact about Rafflesia Arnoldii flower that you may want to know.

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Fact 1 – Discovery

It was all begand with the discovery of a Rafflesia by a French explorer, Louis Auguste Deschamps (1765-1842).

The discovery of Rafflesia Arnoldii that we knew today is happened during the expedition he spent three years on Java, in 1797 to be exact.

However,  in 1798, his ship was taken by the British with whom France was at war at that time, as he sailed home. The encounter is resulting all his papers and notes to be confiscated.

In 1818, a Malay servant in Sumatra found a specimen of another Rafflesia species that collected by Joseph Arnold (1782-1818), a British botanist and the statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles (1781-1826, founder of modern Singapore).

As Joseph Arnold died soon after the discovery, his wife sent the colour drawing of the plant by him along with the preserved material to Joseph Banks which later will be pass on to Robert Brown (1773-1858) of the British Museum and Kew’s resident botanical artist Franz Bauer (1758-1840).

Despite the loss of notes, Arnold’s successor in Sumatra, William Jack (1795-1822) could formally publish a name for the newly discovered flower and rushed to draft a description so that the credit went to a British botanist.

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Fact 2 – Morphological Description


[tr][td]Kingdom[/td] [td]Plantae[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Division[/td] [td]Magnoliophyta[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Class[/td] [td]Magnoliopsida[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Order[/td] [td]Rafflesiales[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Family[/td] [td]Rafflesiaceae[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Genus[/td] [td] Rafflesia[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Species[/td] [td]R. arnoldii[/td][/tr]


The one at Palupah Nature Reserve close to Bukittinggi, Sumatra, can grows to a diameter of around 105 centimeters (3.4 ft) as measured by Prof. Syabuddin of Andalas University. It is the greatest measurement more than the generally assumption of Rafflesia Arnoldii can grow to one meter (3 ft). Rafflesia Arnoldii can weighing up to 10 kg.

Rafflesia Arnoldii is one of plant that produces no leaves, stems or roots and does not have chlorophyll. The plant has a reddish brown colors of the petals, which are sprinkled with white freckles. and the largest flower bud ever recorded was found at Mount Sago, Sumatra in May 1956.  It was 43cm (17 in) in diameter.

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Fact 3 – Reproduction

When it comes to the “reproduction”, the sexual organs of this plant are located beneath the rim of the disk.

Meanwhile, Rafflesia Arnoldii is an unisexual plant.

Therefore, the proximity of male and female flowers is vital for successful pollination.

These factors make successful pollination a rare thing to happen. The percentage of conception is very small.

Thus, the male flowers and female flowers can rarely bloom simultaneously in a week, even if there are flies that come to fertilize it.

When a tiny bud forms outside the root or stem of its host and develops over a period of a year, you will now realize that this means the plant is ready to produce.

Rafflesia Arnoldii‘s cabbage-like head will eventually develops and open to reveal the flower.

Next, all this plant going to do is make itself stink and wait for flies or beetles to visit and pollinate Rafflesia Arnoldii. The name of the main pollinator is carrion fly. The odor of rotting skin is the thing that appeals to them as the main pollinator.

You may never heard it before, but elephants also affect the pollination of this flower and its has the name of its own. The kind of pollination with the lep of elephants is known as Elephophily.

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Other Facts

There are several additional facts about Rafflesia Arnoldii Flower, as follows:

  • Fact 4 – Myth

The people of Rejang tribe who inhabit hills from Central Bengkulu, Kepahiang, Rejang Lebong, and Lebong, nicknamed the Bengkulu iconic flowers as Bokor Satan’s flowers. Others call it the Ibeun Sekedei or the Ghost Grail.

This is because Rafflesia Arnoldii is believes to be Bokor betel of the forest, either in the form of mystical creatures and wild animals, such as tigers. Therefore, the people of the Rejang tribe had always been avoiding Raflesia flowers if they’re in the middle of the forest.

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  • Fact 5 – Conservation Status

As the remaining primary forests of Borneo and Sumatra disappear, it can be assumed that the number of Rafflesia Arnoldii are diminishing. In fact, many are known to be nearing extinction and just completely nothing left.

Just like many rare plant in the world, Rafflesia Arnoldii is at risk of disintegration as the result of atmosphere damage as well as careless travelers walk around the sensitive vines and plants. There are many steps and plans taken to be able help Rafflesia Arnoldii recovering and far from extinction but so far, it’s happen to result nothing much.

See also: Indonesian Nutmeg

  • Fact 6 – Relationship

The relationship between Rafflesia Arnoldii and plants the rafflesia interacts with can be different in their own way. When it come to the vine, Rafflesia Arnoldii has a parasitic relationship with it, because while the vine is being harmed, the flower benefits from it. Vines work as the host which is helping Rafflesia Arnoldii to obtain its nutrients and water. Though, the relationship of Rafflesia Arnoldii and vine is also mutualism on a way.

The mutual-ism happens as Rafflesia Arnoldii success on having their fruit. The seeds from these fruits must reach vine, therefore, the vine got benefit from the fruit that the flower produced after pollinated.

The relationship Rafflesia Arnoldii has with carrion flies is different than the one the plant has with vine. It’s an example of commensalism. As the plant is receiving advantage from carrion flies as its pollinated Rafflesia Arnoldii, the flies itself didn’t receive or lose any in return.

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  • Fact 7 : Rafflesia Arnoldii get its food from the plants that live on it, because this plant is classified as a parasite plant.
  • Fact 8 : Rafflesia Arnoldii is one of the rare flowers of the three national flowers of Indonesia.
  • Fact 9 : The fruits of Rafflesia Arnoldii flowers are round and have a diameter of about 12 cm to 15 cm. This fruit contains many seeds favored by squirrels and rats.
  • Fact 10 :  Rafflesia is the official state flower of Sabah in Malaysia, as well as the official state flower of Surat Thani Province, Thailand
  • Fact 11 : Rafflesia Arnoldii has no root and no stem.
  • Fact 12 : Rafflesia Arnoldii and Bunga Bangkai is two different flower. Many thought that both of it is the same when actually they’re very much different.
  • Fact 13 : When Rafflesia Arnoldii bloom, the size of it can reach 1 meter while weighing 11 kilograms.
  • Fact 14 : Rafflesia Arnoldii has five flower crowns.
  • Fact 15 : Rafflesia Arnoldii can only be found in Indonesia. In the island of Sumatra, to be exact.
  • Fact 16 : This flower is only last one week after it bloom before wither and die.
  • Fact 17 : Before growing and fully blooms, this flower will be hidden inside the host’s body for months.
  • Fact 18 : The flower of Rafflesia Arnoldii doesn’t has leaves, so it can not do photosynthesis like many plants in general.
  • Fact 19 : The naming of the Rafflesia Arnoldii flower is based on the combined name of Thomas Stamford Raffles as the expedition leader and Dr. Joseph Arnold as the discoverer of the flower.
  • Fact 20 : The Rafflesia flower habitat is a primary and secondary tropical forest, such as, Sumatra, Malaysia, Java, southern Thailand, Borneo, and southern Philippines.
  • Fact 21 : Rafflesia Arnoldii is not an insectivorous plant like many people thought. It wasn’t the same with Kantong Semar plant.

Rafflesia Arnoldii become one of icon for Indonesia, Thus its only can be found in Indonesia. Therefore, government both local and national already seriously do a high quality conservation for this native plants of Indonesia.

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