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(răflē`zhə), any of a genus (Rafflesia) of parasitic plants native to the rain forests of the Malay peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, and the Philippines. The plants have no roots, stems, or leaves, consisting of threadlike growths on the tissues of the vine that hosts them. They produce large buds that may take 10 months to open into huge five-petaled flowers, which in the largest species (Rafflesia arnoldii) measure a yard (1 m) or so across. The flowers of most species have the distinctive odor of rotting flesh. All species are endangered or threatened. Rafflesia species are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Rafflesiales, family Rafflesiaceae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a genus of plants of the family Rafflesiaceae. The plants parasitize the roots and stems of a number of tropical plants of the family Vitaceae, especially the genus Cissus, that grow in the tropical rain forests of Indonesia and the Philippines. The Rafflesia lack roots and leafy stems. The flat, spreading flowers form on a host plant and consist of five very large, fleshy perianth bracts, which originate from a central cup-shaped area that is surrounded by a thick ring.

There are 12 species of Rafflesia. The best-known is the monster flower (R. arnoldi), which grows on Sumatra. Its flower is the largest known flower in the world. The flower bud resembles a cabbage head, and an open flower reaches a diameter of 1 m and a weight of 4–6 kg. The flowers emit a strong fetid odor that attracts flies for pollination.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.