It probably goes without saying (given that you’re reading this on Floom), but there are very few things that give as much satisfaction as finding the perfect pint-sized plant or bouquet to fill an empty spot in our homes.
However, at every opportunity we try to remind ourselves that these often pretty, often delicate ‘objects’ stem (no pun intended) from the vastness and complexity of the natural world. What better way to do that, we thought, than to celebrate those plants and flowers too mighty in size to fit into our neatly co-opted visions of their beauty.
Obvious place to start, but the Rafflesia Arnoldii is the largest flower on the planet and its striking red blooms more than earn their place at the head of this list with a flowering that can reach up to one metre in diameter. Unfortunately, their oh-my-god-look-at-the-size-of-that-flower impact is kind of lessened by their slightly grosser characteristics: they’re completely plant-less and rootless, instead parasitically forming inside a host plant before bursting forth; they disperse seeds via the carrion flies. They also stink.
The exotic appeal of ol’ Arnold, found most commonly in places such as Sumatra and Borneo, is however improved by its charming discovery story. In the late 1700s, during the Franco-British war, botanists from each country raced to claim the genus for their own nation. To cut a swashbuckling tale of stolen documents and captured ships short, the British eventually won out, and the plant’s longwinded name was given in honour of two British fellows: Rafflesia for the statesman, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles (a real name, no laughing please) and Arnoldii after the botanist, Joseph Arnold.