Dwarf Species of Giant Rafflesia Flower Discovered in the Philippines

Posted on March 3, 2016

Rafflesia consueloae

The world's smallest of the giant Rafflesia parasitic plant genus has been discovered in the Philippines. Rafflesia are known for having some of the world's biggest flowers. They can grow as large as a mater and a half in diameter. The newly discovered species is much smaller than the giant Rafflesia. It has an average diameter of 9.73 centimeters (3.83 inches).

The new species was discovered by accident when a field assistant tripped over a pile of forest litter exposing a decaying flower. The new species is named Rafflesia consueloae in honor of Ms Consuelo 'Connie' Rufino Lopez, lifelong partner of Filipino industrialist Oscar M. Lopez.

Prof Edwino S. Fernando, a co-author of the study, says in a statement, "Rafflesia flowers are unique in that they are entirely parasitic on roots and stems of specific vines in the forests and have no distinct roots, stems, or leaves of their own. Thus, they are entirely dependent on their host plants for water and nutrients."

The new species has been classified as Critically Endangered. A research paper on the new species was published here in the journal, PhytoKeys.

Photo: Edwino S. Fernando