Thursday, 22 October 2009

Rafflesia Arnoldii, Amarphophallus titanium (Bunga Bangkai)

Two big unique flowers are depicted on the Indonesian stamps, Raflesia Arnoldii, and Amorphophallus titanium (bunga bangkai), as part of Indonesian Flora.

The flower of Rafflesia arnoldii is the largest individual flower which attains a diameter of nearly one meter and can weigh up to 11 kilograms. It occurs only in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo in the Indonesian Archipelago. As a member of the genus Rafflesia, lives as a parasite on the Tetrastigma vine, and grows only in primary (undisturbed) rainforests. Rafflesia is identifiable as distinctly plant-like are the flowers; have a reddish-brown coloration and stink of rotting flesh, which is why it was nicknamed the "corpse flower". This scent attracts insects such as flies which then pollinate the rare plant. Rafflesia arnoldii is rare and fairly hard to locate. The flowers are unisexual and thus proximity of male and female flowers is vital for successful pollination. These factors make successful pollination a rare event. As the remaining primary forests of Borneo and Sumatra disappear, it can only be assumed that their numbers are dwindling. Many are known to be nearing extinction.

Amorphophallus titanium, or known as Titan arum is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. Both male and female flowers grow in the same inflorescence. The female flowers open first, and then a day or two following, the male flowers open. This prevents the flower from self-pollinating. It thrives at the edges of rainforests near open grasslands. Though found in many botanic gardens around the world it is still indigenous only to the tropical forests of Bengkulu, Sumatera. The titan arum's inflorescence can reach over 3 metres in circumference. it consists of a fragrant spadix of flowers wrapped by a spathe, which looks like the flower's single petal. In the case of the Titan Arum, the spathe is green on the outside and dark burgundy red on the inside, and deeply furrowed. The spadix is hollow, the upper-side, visible portion of the spadix is covered in pollen, while its lower-side extremity is spangled with bright red-orange carpels. The flower's deep red color and texture contribute to the illusion that the spathe is a piece of meat. The "fragrance" of the inflorescence resembles rotting meat, attracting carrion-eating beetles and Flesh Flies that pollinate it. Due to its fragrance, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the titan arum is also known as a carrion flower, the "Corpse flower", or "Corpse plant" (in Indonesian, "bunga bangkai" – bunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver

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