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Found: The Corpse Flower’s Miniature Cousin

R. consueloae is “the smallest of the largest flowers in the world”

Rafflesia consueloae (Photo: Edwino S. Fernando/CC-BY 4.0)

In addition to its horrible smell, Rafflesia arnoldii, sometimes called the stinking corpse lily or simply the corpse flower, is notable for having the largest flowers of any plant in the world. Its blooms can grow up to about 5 feet in diameter: these flowers are hard to miss.

Rafflesia consueloae, by contrast, are almost demure and easy to overlook. Recently discovered in the Philippines’ Luzon Island, these flowers are in the same genus as corpse flowers, but their flowers are less than 4 inches in diameter. R. consueloae is, a team of researchers reports in the journal PhytoKeys, “the smallest of the largest flowers in the world.”

By contrast, the corpse flower is grossly giant (Photo: Raphaelhui/Wikimedia)

Rafflesia lives as parasites on other plants; R. consueloae has no roots, stems or leaves of its own. The species was discovered accidentally, when a field researcher in the Philippines stumbled on a pile of decaying plant matter and exposed one of these relatively tiny flowers. 

R. consueloae lives up in the mountains and has only been found in two small areas, so it’s classified as critically endangered. The researchers do not mention its smell, but presumably it doesn’t have quite the same stench as its larger relative. Otherwise, it certainly would have been discovered before now.

Bonus finds: The oldest Mesolithic piece of art ever found in Britain30-million-year-old rocks hiding underneath Qatar’s new stadium

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.