Many interesting plants were found in the 19th century by missionaries who went to areas that few Europeans had ever visited before. One such find, made in 1888 by the Reverend Hugh Goldie was Africa’s largest flower, which we refer to as the ‘P.g. plant’ on account of its unpronounceable scientific name, Pararistolochia goldieana.
This spectacular plant is a tuberous climber with large heart-shaped leaves at the top of twining stems about 7m long. It dies down in the dry season and re-emerges as rains begin, forming several trombone-shaped buds near ground level which open in succession. When fully open, the flower measures 60cm long and 30cm wide at the mouth. From its enormous size you might expect the pollinator to be a bug as large as a mouse. More likely its purpose is to disperse the odour of rotting flesh through in the still, humid air of the rainforest.
Like many rainforest species, the P.g. plant needs shade, shelter, and high humidity. The IUCN Red List assesses it as VU (Vulnerable). Without the forest for protection, its days are numbered.