Have you heard of ‘corpse flower’?

When we speak of flowers, we usually think of rose, jasmine, marigold, hibiscus, and the like. And most flowers are less than the size of our palm and sweet-smelling. What if there's a flower which is neither? Come, let's find out more about this.

It's huge and smelly!     

Rafflesia is a genus of flowering plants comprising at least 15 species found in Southeast Asia. Interestingly for a plant it has only flowers - with nothing to show for leaves or roots. Which means there's no photosynthesis either. Rafflesia is basically a parasite, living off a type of vine. Its body - essentially made of thin filaments - lies inside the stem and the root of its host for years, and the flower bud bursts forth eventually. The bud continues to swell for months before the large flower blooms. For all that wait the flower stays in bloom for just about a week. But when in bloom, it gives off its signature stench - of rotting meat - that attracts flies. These flies ensure pollination and keep the species thriving. Unfortunately, Rafflesia's forests are disappearing and it is critically endangered. It is "impossible to cultivate and "remains largely ignored", according to a media report.

The largest

The flowers of Rafflesia usually win the largest flower title, and this year has been no different. The largest single flower ever recorded was found earlier this year in Sumatra, Indonesia, with a diameter of 111 cm - that's a whopping 3.6 ft! This was a specimen of Rafflesia tuan-mudae, and beat the earlier record of 107 cm set by Rafflesia amoldii, also from the same region.

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Who pollinated the world's first flowers?

The first flowering plants in our world evolved only about 140 million years ago, and plants existed without flowers for a long time before that. And what we think of flowering plants it is hard not to think of pollinators. From insects and birds to animals and even wind and water, there's a long list of pollinators. But among these who pollinated the first flowers? Researchers may have decoded that today nearly 90% of all plant species bear flowers. Most of these rely heavily on insects for pollination because they are effective due to their small size and high mobility in fact flowers have evolved to attract insects, and in return for pollination, gift them with nectar, pollen etc. Making there is a mutually beneficial relationship. A recent research studied more than 1.100 species of plants, and based on when they evolved, it mapped what pollinates a plant in the present to what might have pollinated the ancestor of that plant in the past it showed that insect pollination has been the most common, happening nearly 86% of the time, pointing to the fact that "the first flowers were most likely pollinated by insects Recent research on fossil insects suggests that a few insects may have actually been "pollinating plants even before the first flowers evolved

While it is easy to imagine bees to be the first to pollinate flowers, it is not so because bees did not evolve until after the first flowers Also, since the first flowers were small, they were most likely pollinated by a tiny creature, perhaps a fly or a beetle or some other insect that has long disappeared.

Did you know?

  • Pollination by vertebrate animals such as birds and bats, small mammals, and even lizards, has evolved at least 39 times- and reverted to insect pollination at least 26 of those times.
  • Wind pollination has evolved even more often: 42 instances these plants rarely go back to insect pollination.
  • Wind pollination evolved more often in open habitats at higher latitudes. Animal pollination is more common in closed-canopy rainforests, near the Equator.

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Pollination is an essential part of plant reproduction. Pollen from a flower's anthers (the male part of the plant) rubs or drops onto a pollinator. The pollinator then take this pollen to another flower, where the pollen sticks to the stigma (the female part). The fertilized flower later yields fruit and seeds.Flowering plants have a number of tricks in their armoury to attract pollinators, whether they are birds, insects, reptiles or mammals. Let’s look at some of the pollinators.

Hummingbirds and Sunbirds

Flowers that hummingbirds and sunbirds favour are day-blooming, tube-shaped. bright orange or red in colour and have little fragrance. Their nectar is 26 per cent sugar, double the amount in a soft drink. The shape forces the bird to delve deep, brushing its head against the stamens which drop their load of pollen.

Sunbirds like to perch while feeding so their favourite plants provide them a stalk to sit on. The rats tail plant of South Africa has a vertical one that provides a convenient foothold for the malachite sunbird while it samples the nectar. Scientists have found that plants with perches have double the number of sunbirds visiting them.


On tiny oceanic islands, lizards pollinate the flowers! The blue-tailed gecko is partial to the nectar of the Trochetia flower on the island of Mauritius. It prefers the flowers that grow underneath the pandanus shrub since it shields the lizard from birds of prey. Trochetia plants have over time, evolved to grow in the shelter of the pandanus!

Moths and Butterflies

Hawk moths visit flowers that bloom at night or at dawn or dusk, times at which they are active. The flowers are generally large, showy, and sweetly fragrant. are white in colour and have lots of nectar.

Flowers visited by day-flying moths are smaller, have less nectar and grow in heads rather than individually.

Butterfly-pollinated flowers are similar to the hawk moth-pollinated ones and have petals that provide a landing area. Their nectar is hidden inside narrow tubes which are a perfect fit for a butterfly's proboscis.

Bees and Wasps

Beers are of course, the supreme pollinators, but wasps are not far behind. Some fussy plants demand special attention. Tomato flowers have anthers that will only release pollen if they are vibrated briskly by the whirring wings of the bumblebee! This is called buzz pollination Honeybees are not so good at buzzing!

Fig trees display the ultimate in finicky behaviour. Each species of fig depenits on its own kind of wasp for pollination. A figs flower grow inside the fruit. The female wasp makes a small hole and squeezes inside. Once in, she feeds on the nectar and lays her eggs. When the eggs hatch the new generation of wasps fly to another fig tree. pollinating it in the process.


Flowers pollinated by bats are flamboyant and white or light-coloured since their visitors are nocturnal like the moths. They are generally bell-shaped and strong smelling. Their pollen grains are bigger and they produce nectar throughout the night Bats pollinate more than 300 species of fruit bearing plants including mangoes, bananas and guavas. Some species of bats sport proboscis-like tongues and have the ability to hover. They also use echolocation to find certain types of flowers.


The world's largest known pollinator is the ruffed lemur of Madagascar. It has dexterous fingers that can peel open the hard coating on the flower of the travellers palm. Once open. the lemur pushes its long snout into it to lap up the nectar. The lemurs depend on these flowers when fruit is scarce. Scientists think the palm's flowers evolved to be pllinatd only by this species of lemur.


The smelliest flowers around have a corpse-like smell of decay that is immensely attractive to flies. Two of the largest flowers in the world, the rafflesia and the titan arum are pollinated by flies. The paw-paw, a fruit native to the US... depends on flies for pollination Farmers hang rotten meat from the tree to draw in even more of them.

Picture Credit : Google 


The Dubai Miracle Garden, occupying over 780,000 sq feet, is the world's largest natural flower garden with over 150 million flowers and plants. The flowers are maintained with treated wastewater through a drip irrigation method, with an average of 757,082 litres of water used per day. The Dubai municipality re treats the grey water of the city and sends it directly to the Garden, where it is re-filtered and converted into high-quality water for watering. The Garden holds three Guinness World Records - world's largest vertical garden, world's biggest flower structure (Airbus A380 flower structure) and world's tallest topiary-supported sculpture (59 foot Mickey Mouse topiary). Other floral works of art include the Floating Lady, Floral Clock, Sunflower Field, Smurfs Village, Floral Castle, among others. It is also home to the Dubai Butterfly Garden, the world's largest and the region's first indoor butterfly garden and sanctuary for over 15,000 butterflies from 26 species.

The concept of the first miracle garden project was formed under an agreement between Dubailand and the Dubai Properties Group destination. The project development was done under an agreement with Akar Landscaping and Agriculture Company,led by Jordanian businessman Abdel Naser Rahhal. The cost of the project was estimated at AED 40 million (US$11 million).

The Dubai Miracle garden has achieved three Guinness World Records. In 2013, it was declared as the world's largest vertical garden. Currently an Airbus A380 flower structure in the garden is listed by Guinness World Records as the biggest flower structure in the world. The 18 metres (59 ft) topiary of Mickey Mouse, which weighs almost 35 tonnes, is the tallest topiary supported sculpture in the world.

Credit : Wikipedia 

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The Canadian Tulip Festival (French: Festival Canadien des Tulipes; Dutch: Canadees Festival van de Tulp) is a tulip festival, held annually in May in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The festival claims to be the world's largest tulip festival, displaying over one million tulips, with attendance of over 650,000 visitors annually. Large displays of tulips are planted throughout the city, and the largest display of tulips is found in Commissioners Park on the shores of Dow's Lake, and along the Rideau Canal with 300,000 tulips planted there alone.

In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered the future Queen Juliana and her family for the preceding three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War. The most noteworthy event during their time in Canada was the birth in 1943 of Princess Margriet at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The maternity ward was temporarily declared to be extraterritorial by the Canadian government, thereby allowing Princess Margriet's citizenship to be solely influenced by her mother's Dutch citizenship. In 1946, Juliana sent another 20,500 bulbs requesting that a display be created for the hospital, and promised to send 10,000 more bulbs each year.

In the years following Queen Juliana's original donation, Ottawa became famous for its tulips and in 1953 the Ottawa Board of Trade and photographer Malak Karsh organized the first "Canadian Tulip Festival". Queen Juliana returned to celebrate the festival in 1967, and Princess Margriet returned in 2002 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the festival.

For many years, the festival featured a series of outdoor music concerts in addition to the tulips. The 1972 festival saw Liberace give an opening concert, and at the 1987 festival, Canadian singer Alanis Morissette made her first appearance at the age of 12, first became widely known after opening for Big Sugar at the 2003 festival. Montreal's General Rudie also gained valuable exposure early in their career with a performance at the 2000 festival.

For a dozen years, the Canadian Tulip Festival celebrated countries all across the world, who have also adopted the Tulip as a Symbol of International Friendship. From Turkey, the originating country of the tulip.

While the Netherlands continues to send 20,000 bulbs to Canada each year (10,000 from the Royal Family and 10,000 from the Dutch Bulb Growers Association), by 1963 the festival featured more than 2 million, and today sees nearly 3 million tulips purchased from Dutch and Canadian distributors.

Credit : Wikipedia 

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What is international flower festival of Sikkim?

Sikkim's International Flower Festival held in May every year at The White Hall in Gangtok, attracts tourists from across the world. Different species of flowers are showcased in the fair.  It showcases more than 600 types of orchids, 30 types of rhododendrons, 240 kinds of trees, and an impressive array of bamboo( Bamboo grow in abundance in Sikkim and forms an integral part of the daily needs of the people here.), ferns, magnolias, roses, gladioli, cacti, alpine plants, climbers and herbs. Sikkim covers just 0.2% of India's geographical area, but is recognised for its invaluable flora and fauna, including more than 4,500 types of flowering plants and over 424 medicinal plants.

Sikkim in North East India is surrounded by lofty mountains, paddy fields and orange orchards. The considerable range of climate and altitude is responsible for the immense variation in vegetation and wild life. The natural topography and climate supports the varied flowers that row naturally in every nook and corner of Sikkim. Mention must be made of the rhododendron. There are about thirty species of the flower in Sikkim. International Flower Festival, Gangtok showcases different varieties of flower that are native to Sikkim. This festival is held during the peak flowering season in Sikkim and attracts tourist from all over India.

Credit : Indian Holiday

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Does Neelakurinji bloom every year?

The Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthianus) shrub flowers only once every 12 years. The phenomenon occurred this year and will last till October. Plants that bloom at long intervals like Neelakurinji are known as plietesials. The shrub grows to a height of 30-60 cm and grows profusely across the shoal grasslands of the Western Ghats. The brilliant blue colour of Kurinji has given the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu the name 'Nilgiri' meaning 'Blue mountains'. Kerala's Munnar (Anamalai Hills, the Agali Hills and Eravikulam National Park) records the highest number of Neelakurinji plants across India, spreading across 3,000 hectares. Apart from being a feast for the eyes, the flowers also provide sustenance for butterflies, insects and honeybees in the region. The honey from Neelakurinji is said to be medicinal.

 ‘Strobilanthes kunthianus’ is the scientific name of Neelakurinji. The name is actually derived from the Kunthi River which nourishes the expanse of the renowned grasslands and valleys. Kurinji flower is considered to be a symbol of desire for love and happiness for the poets and for the tribal; it is the symbol of self awakening of a woman. The Neelakurinji blossoming is spread across 3,000 hectares of rolling hills which is covered in purple/blue colors. Each plant reproduces once in its life span and then dies after flowering. 

We might have seen or read about a number of blooming valleys and flower-laden grasslands all over the world, but there are many reasons that make Munnar and its Neelakurinji exceptional. The peculiarity of Munnar Neelakurinji is its uniqueness. The flower blooms only in Munnar and nowhere else. Even though the plants are found in a sparse amount in other southern hill stations, the one in Munnar is plentiful, rambling magically across its green mountains.

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Which is the largest sea star in the world?

The sunflower sea star, found in the northeast Pacific is among the largest sea stars found in the world. It has a maximum arm span of 1 metre.

It has the longest arm spread of any sea star, measuring about 40 inches from tip to tip, and it is also the heaviest, weighing up to 11 pounds. It also has the most arms of any animal known to science.

Aside from its size, the number of arms is what makes this sea star so incredible. Adults have up to 24 symmetrically placed arms, which is more than any other known species.

Because some individuals are a deep yellow, they resemble sunflowers, with all of the arms resembling petals. The hue yellow isn’t the only one available; sunflower stars also come in purple, orange, red, and brown variations.

They are paler beneath, with thousands of yellow or orange tubular feet. These feet act like suction cups, providing the sea stars with a firm hold and assisting them in catching and opening their mollusk, sea urchin, and crab prey.

The feet are also utilized for walking, and according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this species can travel at a remarkable rate of up to 40 inches per minute.

Credit : American Oceans 

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Which flower is known as the king of Himalayan flowers?

Brahma Kamal is a flowering plant native to the Himalayan region. Also known as the King of Himalayan Flowers, it is found at an altitude of around 4,500 metres. The flower, known to bloom after sunset and just once a year, has a strong fragrance. Its scientific name is Saussurea obvallata.

It is also popularly known as Orchid Cactus as the flower has orchid like beauty and plant resembles cactus in habit.

The Brahma Kamal plant found in Himalayas is often mixed with the plant seen growing on window sill in homes. It is the state flower of Uttarakhand.

Also recognized as the flower of Lord Brahma, it is considered very lucky if u see it bloom…

In Hindu drawings Brahma is seen sitting on a pink flower that is resembling lotus (Sanskrit:Kamal), which is Indian National flower. Hence people claim that the pink flower of Nelumbo nucifera to be Brahma Kamal

It is believed to bring in loads of good luck and prosperity and a home where the flowers bloom is very auspicious and lucky.

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What flower family is lettuce in?

Lettuce is member of the sunflower family. Both are part of the Asteraceae family, one of the most diverse and largest families of flowering plants. Many of the members of this family, including lettuce are grown as food crops. Others are considered ornamental, like asters, daisies and marigolds. This family also includes medicinal flowering plants such as chamomile and plants that produce oils used in cooking, such as the sunflower and safflowers plants.

Lettuce plants can have taproots or fibrous root systems. The leaves of domesticated varieties come in a wide range of colours, from shades of green to deep red and purple; variegated varieties have also been developed. Lettuces are harvested prior to flowering, as the “bolting” of the flower stalk elongates head lettuce, reduces the size of the leaves, and imparts a bitter flavour. The yellow flower heads produce achene fruits with feathery pappus structures for wind dispersal.

For successful cultivation, lettuce requires ample water, especially in warmer weather. During unseasonable weather, protection is furnished and growth stimulated with greenhouses, frames, cloches, or polyethylene covers. In many parts of the world, the cos, leaf, and butterhead types are most popular, though some varieties are difficult to ship and are commonly grown on truck farms or market gardens relatively close to markets. The crisphead varieties, well adapted for long-distance shipment, are popular in the United States.


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How does a hydrangea tell you what kind of soil your garden has?

Hydrangeas are shrubs with large showy flower heads. The flowers can be various colours, ranging from red to blue. The colour depends on the type of soil they are growing in. If your soil is rich in chemicals known as alkalines, the hydrangea flower will be pink, red or white, depending on the type you are growing. The opposite to alkaline soils are acid soils. Hydrangeas grown in these will produce blue or mauve flowers.

However, gardeners hydrangeas can cheat a bit if they want to. Pink-flowering hydrangeas can be encouraged to turn blue by feeding them a chemical called aluminium sulphate in autumn.


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Where is the famous valley of the roses?

The valley of the roses’ could be the title of a novel or a romantic film, one of many fantasies; instead it actually exists in Bulgaria.

It is a narrow valley (enclosed by two mountain chains and crossed by the Tundza, the principal tributary of the river Maritza) which at harvest time becomes a sea of roses, a unique spectacle. Until the height of summer every morning at the first signs of dawn the petal pickers fill their large sacks and hurry to deliver their product to be processed before the petals lose their fragrance.

Rose essence, known and appreciated in all parts of the world, is extracted from the petals.


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What happens if you touch a touch me not plant?

Many of us may have heard of or even seen or touched the touch-me-not plant also called the sensitive plant. The moment we touch it the plant quickly folds its leaves inward. It unfolds the leaves when it feels safe enough. The plants have different types of cells that help them fold in response to external stimuli (such as touch, heat light etc.), and unfold.

Scientifically known as Mimosa pudica, the touch-me-not plant spends a lot of energy not during this folding unfolding act. It loses a chance to photosynthesise too. And yet it continues to do this because scientists believe this behavior could have evolves as a response to guard itself against predators, especially herbivores. Closed or closing leaves are assumed to have several benefits. They could make it tougher for animals to detach the leaves from the stems the animals could be fooled into believing the plant is dying or dead and is of no use and the sudden closure of the leaves could shake off insects or even startle herbivores into moving away from the plant while all these are interesting by themselves, something even more fascinating came about in a 2014 study.

A group of researchers decided to study if plants could be “trained” to change their behaviour, and used touch-me-nots for the study. From a height of about 15 cm. test plants in pots were dropped onto foam. This was repeated, and after a point, the plants no longer folded their leaves, perhaps since they did not sense any harm. Intriguingly, even a month after this experiment, the plants remembered to not fold their leaves when the experiment was taken up again Scientists concluded that plants could "learn", a trait usually attributed to animals. And this learning could mean that by not folding their leaves the touch-me-nots could save energy.


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Why does neelakurinji flower only once in 12 years?

The lifecycle of plants differs from species to species. There are those that complete their lifecycle in one year (called annuals) and those that live for more than one year, flowering once or many times in their lifetime (perennials)

Those that flower only once, produce seeds and die. The next generation of the plant is established from these seeds and the cycle gets repeated. Such plants are known as monocarpic. (Whereas polycarpic plants are those that flower many times during their lifetime.) Kurinji is monocarpic. Monocarpic plants flower only on attaining maturity. The time taken to mature varies for different species of kurinji. So, different species of kurinji have different intervals of flowering too.

Neelakurinji matures in 12 years time and flowers every 12 years. That is, it takes another 12 years for the seeds to sprout and grow 30 to 60 centimetres high for another glorious bloom. Each shrub reproduces once in its lifetime and dies after flowering.

India is home to nearly 46 species of kurinji, with most of them showing an unusual flowering behaviour, varying from annual to 16-year blooming cycles.


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Why do flowers have fragrance?

Flowers get their scent from a mixture of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by the plant. The fragrance is often strongest in the petals.

Different flowering plant species encompass a diversity of VOCs and no two fragrances are the same. The purpose of scent is to attract pollinators and repel herbivores. Flowers also use colour and shape to attract pollinators. The scent is strongest when a flower is ready for pollination - a full bloom's smell is powerful than a bud's.

Maximal emissions also coincide with the active phase of visiting pollinators. Plants pollinated by moths usually emit the most fragrance in the evening or night (when moths are active), while plants pollinated by bees produce the most scent during the day (when bees are active).


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