World’s largest flower
The largest flower in the world, the rafflesia arnoldi, weighs 7 kg (15 pounds) and grows only on the Sumatra and Borneo islands of Indonesia. Its petals grow to 1.6 ft (1 metre) long and 1 inch (2,5 cm) thick.
There are 16 species of rafflesia, found in Sumatra, Malaysia, Philippines and Borneo. The species is named after the naturalist Sir Stamford Raffles, who founded the British colony of Singapore in 1819. Raffles discovered the parasitic plant with his friend Dr. Joseph Arnold during their travels in May 1818. The rafflesia arnoldi is named after the two.
However fascinating and beautiful the rafflesia arnoldi may be, it is also called “corpse flower” and really reeks, the latter to attract flies for pollination.
Of about 200,000 kinds of flowers in the world, the smallest is the duckweed, which can only be seen with a microscope.
Oldest living thing
The oldest living thing on earth is a flowering shrub called the creosote bush, found in the Mojave Desert. It is 15 metres (50 ft) in diameter. It is estimated that it started from a seed nearly 12,000 years ago. During its lifetime the last major period of glaciation in North America came to an end, the wheel and writing were invented, and the great Egyptian and Mayan pyramids were built. The shrub is still living.