An international team of scientists, including botanists from Oxford University Botanic Gardens, raised the alarm. The famous genus Rafflesia, which contains the world’s largest flowers, is in danger of extinction. The group advocates for globally coordinated action to ensure urgent action to protect them.

That’s how scientists react to a study published this week that found that most 42 species of Rafflesia are seriously threatened. However, only one of them is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Research published in Plants People Planet, indicates that 60% of these plants face a serious risk of extinction equivalent to “Critically Endangered” or CR. It is the fifth most serious status on the Red List, a seven-level scale used by the IUCN to assess the risk of a species. This is followed only by “Extinct in the Wild” and “Extinct”.

A further 15 species of Rafflesia fall into the ‘endangered’ category, and two are already listed as ‘vulnerable’. The study also explains that more than 67% of Rafflesia’s habitats are outside protected areas. and under threat of destruction.

Map showing gender diversity Rafflesia in the floristic region of Malesia.

Urgent action to protect the world’s largest flower

“This new study shows how global plant conservation efforts, landmark as they may be, lag behind animal conservation efforts,” Chris Thorogood, deputy director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and an author of the study, said in a statement.

Rafflesia remains hidden from view for most of its life cycle. It exists as a system of filamentous filaments that invade its host. At unpredictable intervals, the parasite produces a cabbage-like cocoon that extends through the bark of the grapevine. In the end, Forms a giant five-lobed flower up to a meter in diameter. It can weigh about 10 kilograms.

A group of scientists led by Oxford University proposed four-point plan to protect the world’s largest flower and its types. It is intended for governments, research centers and environmental organizations.

On the one hand, they ask to protect Rafflesia’s habitat. The plant is a parasite that attacks tropical vines in the rainforests of Southeast Asia, in regions such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Southeast Asia also has the most rapidly disappearing forests on the planet.. Additionally, many of the known populations of Rafflesia are found dangerously close to growing population centers.

They also highlight the importance of developing methods for successfully propagating Rafflesia outside its natural habitat. “This may involve grafting Rafflesia-infested vines onto uninfested vines for species whose habitat is likely to occur,” they explained in a statement.

Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director of Oxford University Botanic Gardens, with the world’s largest flower. Credit: Chris Thorogood

Key Community Participation

The other two points involve increasing research on these species and investing in ecotourism projects that allow local communities to participate in the conservation of the world’s largest flower. “We cannot protect what we do not know exists,” the group of scientists said in a statement.

Adrian Tobias, a forest ranger from the Philippines, emphasized the role of indigenous peoples, “the best custodians of our forests.” “Rafflesia has the potential to become a new symbol of conservation in the Asian tropics,” Tobias said.

Today there are more than 150,300 species on the IUCN Red List. Of the total number of more than 42,100 species are Endangered. The risk affects 41% of the planet’s amphibians, 37% of sharks and rays, 27% of mammals and 13% of birds.

Take a look inside a Rafflesia flower. Credit: Oxford University.

Source: Hiper Textual

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