This is the ‘world’s largest bloom,’ but only for a short time because…
The flower Rafflesia is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
According to new research, most species of the famously big Rafflesia flower, which has long grabbed the imagination with its massive speckled red petals, are now threatened with extinction.
Rafflesia is a parasite that lives on tropical vines throughout Southeast Asia, producing some of the world’s largest blooms.
It’s a bit of a mystery, with blossoms that appear unexpectedly, and botanists have had minimal luck growing it outside of its natural setting.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one species of the flower is currently classified as “critically endangered.”
An multinational group of botanists evaluated 42 known Rafflesia species and their habitats in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand to better understand the plant and its conservation status.
According to the researchers, the plant is in significantly more danger than previously thought due to the fast removal of its forest habitats, as well as insufficient conservation measures and preservation plans.
“We estimate that 60% of Rafflesia species are at risk of extinction,” the researchers said in the study, which was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Plants, People, Planet.
Some species may become extinct before they are ever discovered by science, according to the report, which calls for additional research into the rare plant.
“We urgently need a coordinated, cross-regional approach to save some of the world’s most remarkable flowers, the majority of which are now on the verge of extinction,” said Chris Thorogood, deputy director of Oxford University’s Botanical Garden and one of the study’s authors.
According to the study, the plant is thought to thrive in relatively small places, making it particularly sensitive to habitat degradation.
It also includes some success stories in conservation, such as effective propagation at a botanical park in West Java, Indonesia, and sustainable ecotourism around the plant in West Sumatra.
Nations vowed last year to safeguard 30% of the world’s land and seas by 2030 in a major agreement to slow the extinction of species and ecosystems.
Several studies have cautioned that the twin risks of climate change and human-caused environmental damage are severely diminishing biodiversity globally.