Flowers come from plants and can brighten rooms, gardens, and moods alike. While some flowers are very small, others can grow quite big. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the largest flower in the world. We’ll tell you what species of plant the flower belongs to and how large it grows.
Most importantly, we’ll address the controversy that stems from the unique composition of this flower and others.
What Are Flowers?
Before we talk about the largest flowers in the world, we need to figure out exactly what we’re talking about. In the most basic sense, a flower is the part of a plant that produces seeds. This reproductive portion in flowering plants contains stamens and carpels.
Usually, this part of the plant is surrounded by petals and sepals. For our purposes, we are most concerned with the petal structure. Petals are a non-reproductive structure in the flower. They often appear as bright, conspicuously colored portions of the plant.
Just to drive home the point, imagine a red rose. The familiar rose petals, the red parts, are the portion of the flower that we are going to measure, along with the portion in the middle. The sepal is the green leafy part leading up to meet the red portion.
Now, you should have a good idea of what part of the flower we’re looking at. However, we must look at how we should measure this part of a plant.
How Do We Measure the Largest Flower?
There are several possible ways to measure the largest flower. We could measure the flower according to the total plant height. However, that is not a great way to conclude the biggest flower, but we’ll show you one of the tallest later.
Instead, we will measure the largest flower according to its diameter. That way, we focus more on the actual flower size rather than the overall plant size.
Another consideration for this measurement is focusing on the largest individual flower. As you will see, some of the flowers that people believe to be the largest are multiple flowers. With that in mind and without further ado, let’s look at the world’s largest flower.
What Is the Largest Flower in the World?
The largest flower in the world is the Rafflesia arnoldii, also called the giant padma, a species of plant that can grow up to 3.3 feet in diameter and weigh as much as 24 pounds. The bud of this flower usually grows about 12 inches in diameter, but it can also grow as much as 17 inches. This flower has a large diameter and weighs a lot.
The flower of this plant is known for its distinct brick red color on its flower petals as well as its sepals. Often, it will have white spots across the petals. Aside from being a very large flower, this one is interesting for a lot of other reasons, too.
For example, the flower is only naturally found on a few islands of Indonesia, namely Borneo and Sumatra. Oh, and there’s the fact that the plant smells like rotting flesh. That has earned this flower the name “corpse flower”, but this name is also attributed to other members of the Rafflesia genus.
Moreover, the plant is interesting because it’s parasitic. The entire genus has no roots, stems, or leaves of its own. Instead, it grows inside of vines from the Tetrastigma family and blooms outside of the vine when the plant is ready to reproduce.
The flower only lasts for a few days. During that time, the horrible smell attracts insects to the flower, and they help pollinate it. Eventually, the plant produces berries with seeds that are dispersed by animals.
You may think that It’s hard to confuse this flower with any other due to its horrible smell. Yet, another one of the supposed largest flowers in the world also shares the name “corpse flower.” We’ll clear things up next.
Another Take on the Biggest Flower
Declaring the largest flower in the world is not done without controversy. After all, if you put the Rafflesia arnoldii next to the next competitor in line, it would seem like we made a serious error. This flower is called Amorphophallus titanum or titan arum for short. The inflorescence of this plant can stand 10 feet 2 inches tall, and the bloom can have a diameter of between 3 and 5 feet across.
That is so much larger than the Rafflesia, right? Unfortunately, we have to be a little pedantic when discussing the largest flowers. Technically, the Rafflesia arnoldii is a single flower, but the titan arum is not.
Although it is a flowering plant, it actually has a cluster of flowers on a single stem. This is called an inflorescence. The titan arum is not a single flower, so we can’t call it the largest one in existence. That doesn’t make this flower any less interesting.
Like the Rafflesia family of flowers, the titan arum is known for its horrible smell. It’s also called the corpse plant or corpse flower because it sinks like rotting meat. Also, this flower is native to the same area as Rafflesia arnoldii, the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.
This beautiful but smelly flower takes years to grow. Moreover, the plant only blooms once every 10 years or so, and it may only stay open for less than a day before wilting. Places that grow these flowers often stream the blooming online so more people can be a part of the activity.
Final Thoughts on the Largest Flower in the World
The title of the largest flower is a difficult one to place. However, going by the strict definitions attached to flowers, the answer is clear. The beautiful and exotic flowers that we’ve discussed in this article are just a sample of the interesting plants that exist in the world around us.
It’s a good time to renew your interest in learning about these surprisingly complex, unique, and sometimes smelly plants.