What Is the World’s Biggest Flower?

In the rain forests of Sumatra, an Indonesian island, grows a very strange plant called the rafflesia.

This plant has no stem and no leaves, but consists of just a single flower. And that flower is the biggest in the world, often measuring over three feet across. A full-grown rafflesia weighs 15 pounds, and can hold 12 pints of nectar!

The rafflesia is strange for another reason, its seeds are often spread by elephants! The rafflesia grows on exposed roots or vines of other plants, sucking its nourishment from these hosts. When a rafflesia dies, it decays into a sticky, pulpy mess containing its seeds.

An elephant, or perhaps a rhinoceros, may step in the pulp, which then sticks to the animal’s foot. The elephant often rubs its feet against another vine or exposed root to wipe off the “sticky stuff.” In doing so, the elephant is putting the seeds right where they want to be, on a vine, where they can take root and produce another huge rafflesia flower!

The smallest flowering plants, the duckweed or watermeal, which make up the film on top of some ponds, are sometimes just 1/50 of an inch across!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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