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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.



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.

References in periodicals archive ?
People sometimes confuse rafflesias with the big, smelly Amorphophallus corpse lily, Davis says.
He does agree that rafflesias belong on the big evolutionary tree branch occupied by the order Malpighiales, which includes the family Euphorbiaceae.
For almost 2 centuries, botanists have debated where rafflesia plants, with their odd flowers, sit on the plant family tree.
Davis calculates that some little dot of an ancestor started a 79-fold size increase during the past 46 million years to yield the modern champ Rafflesia arnoldii.
This Rafflesia and a few other floral giants offer an old-fashioned thrill to a world jaded by the miracles of modern botany.
To tell you the truth, had I been alone, and had there been no witnesses, I should, I think, have been fearful of mentioning the dimensions of this flower," wrote Joseph Arnold, the first Westerner to view any Rafflesia species.
Less theatrical souls suggested flies, instead, but the question of pollinators for the 13 or so Rafflesia species did not get rigorous attention until studies in the early 1980s by John H.
Rafflesia species grow wild in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
A Rafflesia bud erupts from the host vine as a dark lump and slowly swells for some 9 months before opening.
Scouring forests in Borneo, Beaman and his colleagues located a male flower of Rafflesia pricei in bloom and created a picture window on its private life.
pricei flowers stink "like a dead animal," though not as intensely as some other Rafflesia species do, says Beaman.
The flies "are victims of the Rafflesia," Beaman says.