Malaysia: Rafflessia

Rafflesia is the world’s largest flower and it was my dream to see one in real life since I was a little kid. The plant is parasitic, and has no stems, leaves, or roots, and spends most of its life inside the body of a host vine. Once a year or several years, a massive 5-petal red flower comes out, weighing up to 10kg / 22lb, and diameter of 1 m / 39 inches. The flower looks and smells like rotten flesh and is sometimes referred to as “corpse flower”. The species growing on Kinabalu is the second largest species – Rafflesia Keithii, 90cm in diameter. There was one flower blooming and 2 big buds. Rafflesia only blooms for 2-3 days and once in 2-3 years.  The entire flower structure defies reason – there are male and female flowers that have none of the usual organs. Both sexes need to bloom at same time to pollinate which almost never happens. Otherwise rafflesia is just some white thin veins inside a liana so it doesn’t really spread by seed. Not only you need the right elevation and forest, but also the right host liana so rafflesia is not long for this world unfortunately. With all the efforts focused in preserving animals, not many know or care about the flower, which is much more defenseless and fragile.