Biodiversity challenge – Rafflesia

Corpse flower

The bulbous bubo bursts apart,
Bares its blood-stained, beating heart.
Colossal crimson tomb,
Belching out its vile perfume
From deep within the flowering well.
An overwhelming smell
Of dead meat
Decomposing in the heat,
The clarion call
To carrion crawlers,
Trawls the air
– A drifting dragnet,
Draws them in
– Mephitic magnet.
Distant drone;
The dipterans are coming.
Soon the no-fly-zone is flyblown,
Buzzing with decay detectors
Sucked into the vast vermilion vortex,
Swarming on their putrid prize.
To no avail;
The vapour trail’s
A dead-end street
Devoid of meat.
The floral lord of flies
Has led you up the forest path
And fed you only lies.
See you later, pollinator.
Reproduction by seduction;
Nothing easier.
Did I introduce myself?
The name’s Rafflesia.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile – Rafflesia

IUCN Red List Category: Endangered

The spectacular Rafflesia, named after the British statesman who founded Singapore, boasts the largest single flowers in the world. It is found only in the rainforests of South-east Asia. A parasitic plant, it spends most of its life cycle hidden inside the stems of certain woody vine species on which it depends for survival. Only when it is ready to reproduce do the huge flower buds emerge from the host plant. When the leathery petals are fully open, flowers can reach up to one metre in diameter and weigh well over 10 kg. The stench of rotting flesh, which has earned it the nickname ‘corpse flower’, attracts flies and other pollinating insects. More info

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