Dwarf Rafflesia Flower Found In The Philippines

Scientists have literally stumbled upon a new dwarf species of the giant Rafflesia that is only 9.73 cm in diameter.

AsianScientist (Mar. 3, 2016) – Scientists in the Philippines have made a surprise discovery of a dwarf Rafflesia species. In what was described as a “serendipitous” finding, researchers quite literally stumbled upon the flower—a field assistant accidentally tripped over a pile of forest litter, thus exposing it. The study was published in the open-access journal PhytoKeys.

Some of the world’s giant flowers, those of the parasitic plant genus Rafflesia, can reach up to 1.5 m in diameter. What is even more remarkable is when dwarves such as this record-breaking one are found; its average diameter is only 9.73 cm.

The new species, discovered by scientists from the University of the Philippines Diliman and the University of the Philippines Los Baños, was named Rafflesia consueloae in honor of Ms. Consuelo ‘Connie’ Rufino Lopez, lifelong partner of Filipino industrialist Oscar M. Lopez.

“With her demure, but strong personality traits, which Rafflesia consueloae also possesses, she provides the inspiration for Mr. Lopez’s pursuit of biodiversity conservation in the Philippines,” said lead researcher Professor Perry S. Ong.

Rafflesia flowers are unique in that they are entirely parasitic on roots and stems of specific vines in the forests and have no distinct roots, stems or leaves of their own,” explained co-author Professor Edwino S. Fernando.

“Thus, they are entirely dependent on their host plants for water and nutrients.”

In Sumatra and Borneo, another species of the same genus, Rafflesia arnoldi, holds the record for being the largest single flower in the world, with a diameter of up to 1.5 m.

In the Philippines, Rafflesia schadenbergiana, found only in Mindanao, is still significantly large, with a diameter of 0.8 m. Fernando added that Rafflesia consueloae is the 6th species from Luzon Island and the 13th for the entire Philippine archipelago.

Based on International Union for Conservation of Nature criteria, the new species has been classified as Critically Endangered as it has less than 100 km2 extent of occurrence with its two small populations.

The continued protection of the populations of this species is important as some local people still hunt wildlife within the area and forest fires are likely in the dry season, factors which might threaten the survival of R. consueloae.

The article can be found at: Galindo et al. (2016) Rafflesia Consueloae (Rafflesiaceae), the Smallest among Giants; a New Species from Luzon Island, Philippines.


Source: Pensoft Publishers.
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