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The genus Rafflesia gets its name from Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of the British colony of Singapore.
Bunga pakma; pema
local name of “corpse flower.”
Species: Rafflesia hasseltii
Description of the substance
Rafflesia hasseltii is a family of Rafflesiaeae.
Rafflesia is a genus of flowering plants that is made up of of 16 known species. The best known of these species is Rafflesia arnoldii, which has the distinction of being the world’s largest flower, reaching a diameter of about three feet. )
The 16 known species of Rafflesia are found in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It was first discovered in Sumatra by Sir Raffles To date, the Rafflesia flowers have been found only in Indonesia - on the islands of Sumatra and Java - and Malaysia, in particular in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.
The Rafflesia can be found at altitudes of between 500 and 700 meters in the forests of Borneo (Malaysia), Sumatra and Java. In these tropical rainforests, the climate is continuously warm and humid, with humidity frequently reaching 100% at night. (3)
The plant has no apparent differentiation of leaves, stems or root and does not contain chlorophyll. They are true parasites; they receive all nourishment from fine root hairs embedded in the host vine. It grows exclusively from a woody vine called Tetrastigma. The vegetative bodies of this species begins development inside their plant host's stem or roots. The plant body is almost entirely within the host plant.
The rafflesia can be seen only when it is ready to reproduce. A tiny bud forms on the outside of the vine’s roots or stem, which develops over a period of about a year to a cabbage-like head that eventually opens to reveal the flower.This cabbage-like bud bursts through the host’s bark, and after about 9 months will open to reveal the massive 5-petaled flower, with stamens and pistils, which develops into a fruit with seeds. The flowers, which sit directly on the forest floor, are each either male or female ( female flowers are particularly rare), can measure more than a meter across and weigh 10 kilograms. The flower is very thick and fleshy but does not last very long (less than 4-7 days).(7) They have a strong smell of rotting flesh. The flower is radially symmetrical and inside it there is a spike disk, to which either stigma or stamens are attached, depending on the sex of the plant. Its sepals are very large with no petals and numerous stamen, without stalk arranged around a fleshy column, the top of which form the stigma. The fleshy flower releases a strong aroma which smells like rotting flesh. The flower can be male or female, but on observation it was found that the male flower released this aroma more than the female flower.(8, 9) The smell can be noticed within a few feet of the flower. Scientists believe that the aroma lures the insects from hundreds of feet away.eproduction
Inside the flower is a spiked disk, to which either stigma or stamens are attached, depending on the sex of the plant. The odor of the plant attracts flies and beetles into the plant to pollinate it. (5) Pollination in Rafflesia is thought to be a rare occurrence due to several factors. Firstly, the flowers are unisex and for the most part are found only in proximity to same sex plants. In order to have successful reproduction, the insect pollinators have to visit both male and female plants, which not only are frequently not in close proximity to each other, but are also not necessarily mature and open at the same time. To complicate matters is the fact that the flowers last less than a week, leaving a narrow window of opportunity for pollination. (2
The fruit produced by Rafflesia is round and about 15cm in diameter, filled with smooth flesh and thousands of tiny hard coated seeds. The flesh attracts squirrels and tree shrews which are thought to be the main distributors of the seeds. The plant is found in the jungle of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.(3) It grows only on the roots and stems of two species of vines belonging to the grape family; Tetrastigma leucostaphylum and T. diepenhostii.(10)
Malaysia's Parasitic Plants
Some of the most unusual and spectacular parasitic plants occur in the family Rafflesiaceae. All are extremely specialized, obligate holoparasites, often rare with very limited overall distributions. Two genera, Rafflesia and Rhizanthes, are large-flowered parasites of Tetrastigma (Vitaceae) and the third, Mitrastema (= Mitrastemon, sometimes placed in its own family Mitrastemonaceae) is a diminutive parasite of Fagaceae. The latter genus contains only two widely disjunct species: Mitrastema yamamotoi from Borneo, Sumatra, Indochina, and Japan and M. matudae from Mexico and Central America. Rhizanthes lowi is reported from Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula and Borneo and R. zippelii occurs in those regions plus Sumatra (Meijer and Veldkamp 1988). Members of the genus Rafflesia hold the honor of possessing the largest flower in the world. As shown in Table 2, eight species of Rafflesia occur in Malaysia. The taxonomy of the genus is still in flux, but there appears to be ca. 14 taxa, one of which are now likely extinct. Given that most species are naturally rare and adapted to stable, undisturbed forest environments, they are especially vulnerable to extirpation due to habitat loss (Meijer 1985, Ismail 1988).
By their very nature, parasitic plants, such as mistletoes, have complex associations with other organisms and are therefore more vulnerable than autotrophs to the effects of habitat perturbation. It is not clear how the elimination of parasitic species will impact the overall stability of the ecosystem.
For example, the seeds of many Loranthaceae are specifically dispersed by flowerpeckers of the family Dicaeidae (Liddy 1983). Honeyeaters and sunbirds are frequent pollinators while foraging nectar from mistletoe flowers. Finally, the leaves of Loranthaceae in the 'Amylothecae' group are fed upon by butterfly caterpillars of the genus Delias (family Pieridae). It is also likely that complex associations with other organisms (e.g. fungi) are required for seed germination and seedling establishment for many holoparasites. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of the parasitic plants shown in Table 1, information is incomplete about basic life cycle parameters.
Nearly one quarter of the genera of Loranthaceae occur in Malaysia and some, such as Lampas, are found nowhere else (Borneo). The large, red, bird-pollinated flowers of Lepeostegeres are borne in capitate inflorescences and provide as striking a floral display as any tropical plant. Three species of this mistletoe are endemic to Borneo and should be considered candidates for conservation. Comparisons of localities of historical collections taken from southern Sarawak with current areas undergoing rapid urban development indicate that these populations are no longer in existence. Similarly, many of the mistletoe localities documented by collections made by Clemens in the 1930's from lower elevations of Mt. Kinabalu have been heavily impacted and likely do not currently support the required host tree species.
The application of molecular methods to parasitic plants goes beyond simply documenting levels of variation. These plants have undergone tremendous changes at the molecular level unknown in any other plant. For this reason, they should be viewed as model organisms that provide unprecedented opportunity for studying evolutionary change. The difficulty in placing Rafflesiaceae within the overall classification of angiosperms can be attributed to their extremely reduced vegetative body combined with novel floral morphological features. The molecular evidence obtained to date for these plants predicts that the genes involved in the development of these organs are also undergoing novel changes at the biochemical level. In his treatise on plant speciation in Malesia, Van Steenis (1969) also wondered about the evolutionary mechanisms that have produced such plants as Nepenthes, Rafflesia, Rhizanthes and Mitrastema. He proposed a saltatory model whereby novel innovations appear rapidly from symbiotic associations (in the case of parasites and saprophytes) and morphological and anatomical abnormalities (terata).
The reorganization of ptDNA in the holoparasites represents a natural genetic experiment that, upon careful study, can allow a more complete understanding of the structure and function of this genome in all plants. Since the phenomena we have observed at the molecular level are pervasive, occurring in unrelated plants from distant parts of the world, a number of questions are raised. What are the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for such drastic modification of the plastid genome? Are the same mechanisms operative in all organisms that evolve specialized nutritional dependence? If so, how does that impact upon the concept of a strict molecular clock? What are the functions of the genes that are retained in a vestigial plastid genome in a nonphotosynthetic plant? How many nuclear genes and gene products are utilized by the chloroplast and how did this symbiosis come about? One could ask, "why is it important to have answers to such apparently academic questions?" These questions would never have been asked if plants such as Balanophora, Hydnora, Rafflesia or Mitrastema were not available for study. In fact, it will only be through the study of these "exceptional" organisms that progress will be made in understanding the mode and tempo of evolutionary change at the molecular level. For example, the rRNA molecules of these plants have undergone amazingly high mutation pressure, yet are still functional. Study of the structure of these molecules can provide general insight into how all rRNA molecules function.
SCIENCE: Unraveling the Rafflesia First discovered in Java by SirStamford Raffles and Dr Joseph
Arnold in 1818, the Rafflesia, which is the world largest flower, has fascinated botanists for years. Thisflower that growsonce a year up to 3 feet in diameter, weighs
up to 15 pounds, emits a rotten stench that could knock your socks off! For years scientists have struggled with its phylogenetics because the Rafflesia lacked the stem or leaves to generate chloroplast DNA, which is used to study phylogeny.By taking the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which corresponds to chloroplast DNA, a joint America-Malaysia team of DNA and Rafflesia experts revealed that the Rafflesia is in fact related to the sweet-scented poinsettia, violet and passion flower. Despite thedisparity in size, researcher Todd Barkman says they resemble each other. "Both have
their stamens and pistils fused together in a central column, and both produce a corona, or crown in shape of a ring." The joint research also proved that the smaller similar-looking Mitrastema is not
related to the Rafflesia but to the rhododendron and camellia. This means that both plants, which had different beginnings, adopted similar lifestyles through 'convergent evolution'.
Rafflesia expertise came from Jamili Nais (Sabah Parks) and K. Mat Salleh ( University
Kebangsaan) T. Barkman and J. Seok-Hong Lim (Western Michigan University) in the US,