Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - A Corpse

Friday finds my main PC suffering from some malware and while the geeks are busily putting things back in place, it makes access to my archives on a secure server difficult, so to post a fabulous flower required a bit of a punt and a visit to the Wikicommons. So here is Rafflesia arnoldii, sometimes called a corpse flower, but so are many other stinky flowers. All such flowers stink because they smell, and look, like carrion to attract fly and/or beetle pollinators who are deceived into thinking that this is a brood substrate for their offspring. Here's another from the recent FFF archives and notice how much the general pattern and coloration are alike although not closely related at all. Flies are flies, and such patterns trigger their behavior. This particular species has the biggest single bloom of all flowering plants, and because it is a subterranean parasitic plant, this is all you ever see, the blossom. If you find one of these in your yard, and at a meter in diameter it would be hard to miss, you live in Sumatra. The name is a double honorific, something a bit unusual. The genus is named for Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, as is the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore, home of the Singapore Sling and one of the Phactor's favorite places before they renovated it and removed most of the old charm. The specific epithet (not a species name) is in honor of Dr. Joseph Arnold, a famous naturalist who actually died in Batavia, modern day Jakarta, back when it was a most unhealthy place due to malaria and other tropical diseases.

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