Agriculture
Where Have All the Bees Gone?
Middle school science adventures
Microbes at the Gas Pump
Amphibians
Salamanders
Tree Frogs
Frogs and Toads
Animals
A Whale's Amazing Tooth
Fishing for Giant Squid
Ultrasonic Frogs Raise the Pitch
Behavior
The (kids') eyes have it
Copycat Monkeys
Storing Memories before Bedtime
Birds
Carnivorous Birds
Roadrunners
Penguins
Chemistry and Materials
The Taste of Bubbles
The Buzz about Caffeine
Supersonic Splash
Computers
Music of the Future
New twists for phantom limbs
Programming with Alice
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Dino King's Ancestor
Fossil Forests
Digging Dinos
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Petrified Lightning
Rocking the House
Vitamin D-licious Mushrooms
Environment
Pollution Detective
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Whale Watch
Finding the Past
Salt and Early Civilization
An Ancient Childhood
A Volcano's Deadly Ash
Fish
Bull Sharks
Manta Rays
Flounder
Food and Nutrition
Recipe for Health
Food for Life
A Pepper Part that Burns Fat
GSAT English Rules
Problems with Prepositions
Who vs. That vs. Which
Finding Subjects and Verbs
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Scholarship
Mastering The GSAT Exam
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Mathematics
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Mathematics Quiz, Teaching Math, teaching anxiety
Secrets of an Ancient Computer
Human Body
Spitting Up Blobs to Get Around
A Better Flu Shot
Hey batter, wake up!
Invertebrates
Squid
Clams
Beetles
Mammals
African Wild Dog
Seal
Glider
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Children and Media
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Powering Ball Lightning
Strange Universe: The Stuff of Darkness
Gaining a Swift Lift
Plants
Fastest Plant on Earth
A Change in Leaf Color
Fast-flying fungal spores
Reptiles
Crocodilians
Copperhead Snakes
Snakes
Space and Astronomy
Galaxies Divide Sharply Along Color Lines
Icy Red Planet
Saturn's Spongy Moon
Technology and Engineering
Musclebots Take Some Steps
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
Crime Lab
The Parts of Speech
What is a Noun
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Verb?
Transportation
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Robots on a Rocky Road
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Weather
Where rivers run uphill
Either Martians or Mars has gas
Catching Some Rays
Add your Article

A Giant Flower's New Family

You may know someone who’s taller, shorter, blonder, or more artistic than all of his or her relatives. The phenomenon can make you wonder at the strange ways in which family trees sometimes work.

Rafflesia plants present a similar puzzle. They boast the world’s largest known flowers. With buds the size of basketballs and blooms that stretch 3 feet across, they can weigh up to 15 pounds. They’re also among the stinkiest flowers in existence.

The rafflesia plant shown above ranks as the species with the largest known individual bloom. Smelling of rotten flesh, the yard-wide flower attracts carrion-loving insects for pollination.

The rafflesia plant shown above ranks as the species with the largest known individual bloom. Smelling of rotten flesh, the yard-wide flower attracts carrion-loving insects for pollination.

Jeremy Holden

For nearly 200 years, botanists have debated which plants are most closely related to rafflesias. Now, researchers from Harvard University have used DNA to put the plants in their place. Analyses of eight genes suggest that these megaflowers belong in the same family as poinsettias and castor beans.

The discovery is a surprise because poinsettias and many of their relatives in the Euphorbiaceae family have tiny flowers. (Poinsettias may look big and flowery, but their bulk actually comes from large, red, leaflike structures, not flowers.)

Rafflesia plants may be relatives of the poinsettia (shown above).

Rafflesia plants may be relatives of the poinsettia (shown above).

Scott Bauer, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

In fact, the species of Euphorbiaceae that are most closely related to rafflesias, according to the new study, have flowers that are just a tiny fraction of the size of rafflesia blooms. They measure just a few millimeters across. Some quirk in evolution during the last 46 million years led to the mega-boost in size, scientists say.

Raffesias also evolved into parasites. They have no true roots or leaves. They live off of a plant in the grapevine family.

Rafflesia plants, with their giant blooms, are parasites. With no true roots or leaves of their own, they live off of a plant in the grapevine family. One flower may weigh up to 15 pounds.

Rafflesia plants, with their giant blooms, are parasites. With no true roots or leaves of their own, they live off of a plant in the grapevine family. One flower may weigh up to 15 pounds.

Jeremy Holden

Some experts are surprised by the new conclusions. The rafflesia plant’s flowers seem too different in structure from those of poinsettias and castor beans to be related to them.

Even in the plant world, family trees can be confusing.—E. Sohn

A Giant Flower's New Family
A Giant Flower's New Family








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™