There is nothing else like it in the world. A flower the size of a tractor tire–three feet across, orange and rubbery, with a smell like something that’s been in the fridge too long. This is Rafflesia, a mysterious parasitic plant that lives hidden inside a certain vine, and only manifests itself to the naked eye as an improbable floral outgrowth in the gloomy underworld of Borneo’s rain forest.
The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. It is an holoparasite of vines in the genus Tetrastigma (Vitaceae), spreading its absorptive organ, the haustorium, inside the tissue of the vine. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petaled flower. In some species, such as Rafflesia arnoldii, the flower may be over 100 centimeters (39 in) in diameter, and weigh up to 10 kilograms (22 lb). Even the smallest species, R. baletei, has 12 cm diameter flowers. The flowers look and smell like rotten body, hence its local names which translate to "corpse flower" or "meat flower" (see below). The foul odour attracts insects such as flies, which transport pollen from male to female flowers. Most species have separate male and female flowers, but a few have bisexual flowers. Little is known about seed dispersal. However, tree shrews and other forest mammals eat the fruits and disperse the seeds. Rafflesia is the official state flower of Indonesia.