The world’s largest flower is also its ugliest

Plants regularly lose out to animals in the charisma stakes. In Pathless Forest, Chris Thorogood seeks to promote a new face of Southeast Asian conservation: Rafflesia, one of the strangest and most gruesome plants on the planet. Rafflesia is a parasitic plant, deriving everything that it needs from its host, spending most of its life as a microscopic thread hidden inside a vine. It cannot photo-synthesise and survives without roots, stem or leaves. Once every few years, buds emerge which take nine months to mature. Finally open, the enormous five-lobed flowers resemble slabs of bloody, white-flecked meat. Most spectacular of all is Rafflesia arnoldii, the largest single flower in the