By Dian Hasan | August 17, 2009
The world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia, is home to a plethora of flora and fauna species that can be found nowhere else on the planet. The diversity of wildlife and plant species is simply staggering. Home to the world’s second largest tropical rainforest, after the Amazon, and arguably the richest marine biodiversity in the world (the recently discovered area of Coral Triangle that lies in the northern shores of West Papua of Raja Ampat, is ranked on par with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef).
An interesting endemic plant to Indonesia is the Rafflesia Arnoldii, the world’s largest flower. A fascinating fact may be that the blooming process takes a full 12 months, and once in full bloom, it lasts for a mere week. Hence, a rare and much anticipated sight indeed. Here’s an inside look.
It is a very strange and incredible plant. The Rafflesia is a disembodied flower, it produces no leaves, stems or roots but lives as a parasite on the Tetrastigma vine. It can be found primarily in the tropical forests of Indonesia. Almost one meter wide and weighing over 7kg it’s one of the world’s rarest and most endangered plants.
Inside the cauldron-like cup is a spiked disc. The blossom is pollinated by flies attracted by its scent, which resembles that of rotting flesh. For period of 12 months, it swells to a cabbage-like head that bursts around midnight under the cover of a rainy night to reveal this startling, lurid-red flower. But the full-grown flower lasts only about a week before it dies.