, Volume 124, Issue 2, pp 149-155

Endothermy by flowers of Rhizanthes lowii (Rafflesiaceae)

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Abstract 

Rhizanthes lowii (Beccari) Harms (Rafflesia- ceae) is a parasitic plant that grows in the understory of the rainforest in South-East Asia. This plant does not have leaves, stems, or photosynthetic tissue and is characterised by the emission of a strong odour that attracts the natural pollinators, carrion flies. Flowers that volatilise odorous compounds and attract carrion flies, beetles and other insects are often thermogenic. Here we present evidence of both thermogenesis and thermoregulation in R. lowii from microclimate and tissue temperatures measured during different stages of flower development in R. lowii, in natural conditions in Brunei, Borneo. Endothermy was detected in young and mature buds as well as in blooming flowers and even in decaying tissues 3 or more days after blooming. Tissue temperatures were maintained at 7–9 K above air temperature, in both female and male flowers, at all stages of floral development.

Received: 29 August 1999 / Accepted 9 January 2000