Victoria amazonica - the largest waterlily in the world. The spectacular flowers are relatively short-lived, lasting only 48 hours or so. The species has very large leaves, up to 3 metres in diameter that float on the water's surface on a submerged stalk, 7–8 m in length.
The flower is white the first evening it opens, attracting beetles with a sweet pineapple-like scent and with heat from a thermochemical reaction. At this stage the flower is female, and is open to receiving pollen picked up by the beetles on other plants. As they bumble around inside the flower they transfer pollen to the stigmas and fertilisation takes place. Meanwhile the flower shuts, trapping them until the next evening.
During the following day the plant changes from female to male: the anthers mature and start producing pollen. When the flower reopens on the second evening it has changed colour to purplish red and no longer emits attractive scent or heat. The beetles, dusted with their pollen, fly off to find another white flower on a different plant (each plant only ever has one white flower at a time), where the process is repeated. The flower then closes up and sinks below the surface of the water, its mission accomplished.
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