1. haakon.thunestvedt says

    And such a wonderful* aroma as well!

    *for certain definitions of wonderful. Your definition may wary

  2. n1l0c2501 says

    Don’t they also stink of rotting meat though? Not sure your date would appreciate that.

  3. Suzie Penguin says

    What are those two large things under it that look like they are wrapped in parchment?

  4. MadScientist says

    It looks like it was perfectly designed for a human to put it’s head in there … I wonder if it’s humanivorous as well as banananivorous?

  5. Valdyr says

    Looks less like a corsage and more like some kind of organic toilet made by forest elves.

  6. Mattir says

    The one at the Botanical Garden in DC has bloomed a couple of times in recent years and the lines to see it stretch around the block. People express great disappointment if they arrive before the stinkiness develops and they get to see, but not smell, the huge flower…

  7. strangebeasty says

    Mighty fuck that thing is awesome. I really want to know how it evolved. I’m not finding much about its natural history in the internets.

  8. Adam Yates says


    The paper you want is Barkman et al. PNAS 101(3): 787-792. I’m no botanist but its a fascinating story. Turns out the closest relatives of Rafflesia are the Malpighiales (violets and passionflowers and kin). Amongst these it seems to share some floral characteristics with passionflowers. The idea is that endoparisitic plants like Rafflesia may have evolved from a vine-like ancestor that became commensal and eventually parasitic on a host tree. Apparently there is one recorded example of a passionflower vine becoming parasitic.

  9. Brownian, OM says

    blockquote>Don’t they also stink of rotting meat though? Not sure your date would appreciate that.

    How did Cat People end? Were there any children that would be in their late 20s to early 30s by now?

  10. ronsullivan says

    Mattir, they have a rafflesia at the Nat’l Bot garden???! Holy shit, now I AM impressed. That’s seriously hard to pull off!

  11. Dr. Matt says

    The one at the Botanical Garden in DC has bloomed a couple of times in recent years and the lines to see it stretch around the block.

    You’re thinking of Amorphophallus titanum, or Titan Arum, which is also stinky and pollinated by carrion insects, but otherwise unrelated. Last I heard, nobody has ever successfully cultivated Rafflesia arnoldii, though it has been attempted.

  12. Dr. Matt says

    Barkman et al. PNAS 101(3): 787-792

    See also this from 2007:

    Weirdly, the Rafflesiaceae falls out as an early-diverging branch within the Euphorbiaceae, the spurge or poinsettia family. The euphorbs proper are characterized by relatively insignificant flowers (the showy parts of poinsettia flowers are bracts– modified leaves).

  13. says

    It is interesting thinking about plants that use sent to attract pollinators. Most have a sweet smell and offer a reward of sweet liquid to “pay” for the service. Seeing as how it was the insects bees that do this they could be seen as the ones selecting the smell and nectar flowers they like the best to pollinate. Before that what would flowering plants do that were not self-pollinating and did not just let the wind do it? Might not there have been plants that would have used the carrion smell first as there would have been plenty of that around and therefore plenty of carrion eaters. I guess smell does not fossilize very well.

    It is not only carrion sent that is used, the Purple calla (Zantedscia var.) smells like rotten fruit.
    I am great full that I have not had the pleasure of any flower that tries to attract roaches for pollinators.

    uncle frogy

  14. Mattir says

    @Dr Matt

    I stand corrected (obviously I was not one of the ones standing in line!). So all I’ve seen is the big plastic model of Rafflesia in the Bird House at the National Zoo. Phooey.

  15. rufus_t says

    I admit I confused it with Amorphophallus titanum, which I knew Kew (Royal Botanical Gardens) in London (at least) has successfully cultivated.

    Although wasn’t there some sense of dissapointment that Kew’s didn’t have the proper decaying meat smell?

    I’ve seen a relative of R. arnoldii, R. kerrii, in the wild in Malaysia, they are very impressive in the (decaying) flesh, but would have been moreso were it not for my preoccupation with not dying of the heat and humidity at the time.

  16. sean.peters3 says

    I’m definitely voting for the Titan Arum over the Rafflesia. Who wouldn’t love a plant that smells like rotting flesh AND whose name means “huge, misshapen penis” in Latin?

  17. ronsullivan says

    Titan arum? Eh. OK, they’re gorgeous big AND stinky, but they’re a dime a dozen there days. I know of at least three public conservatories/arboreta that have had them in bloom within an hour’s drive from me, and a couple of private collectors ditto.

    I’ll doff my hat to the first entity that produces a blooming Rafflesia, though. It’s a root parasite, and IIRC the roots concerned are those of a tree. That’s gonna take one hell of a setup.