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The dramatic Rafflesia flowers are the largest single flowers in the world; the leathery petals can reach over 90 centimetres across (2). Rafflesia is a parasite that depends completely upon its host; the majority of the plant's tissues exist as thread-like strands entirely within the host's cells (3). These host plants are vines of Tetrastigma spp., and the Rafflesia plant is itself not visible until the reproduction stage when flowers first bud through the woody vine and then open into the magnificent spectacle that is world-renowned today (4). The flowers can take up to 10 months to develop from the first visible bud to the open bloom, which may last no more than a few days (5). Currently 17 species of Rafflesia are recognised and these mainly differ in the morphology of their flowers (4). In general however, the flowers consist of 5 leathery petals that are orange in colour and mottled with cream-coloured warts (2). There is a deep well in the centre of the flower containing a central raised disc raised that supports many vertical spines (2). The sexual organs are located beneath the rim of the disk, and male and female flowers are separate (2).

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Source: ARKive

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