Rafflesia arnoldii – The Giant Flower from Borneo
If you ask what is the worlds largest flower in the world then Rafflesia arnoldii is probably it. This is the giant flower from Borneo and we sent our intrepid explorer Sam, to find it, and he did.
Found in the tropical rain forests of South East Asia, this one is located near the hot springs of Mount Kinabalu National Park.
You will find that Rafflesia arnoldii is used a as a tourist attraction, locals will find the flowers and build a path to them which usually include a few flimsy bamboo bridges. They may charge a little for you to see them, but it’s well worth the few Ringgits.
Why is Rafflesia arnoldii so rare
The Rafflesia arnoldii has become quite the rarity located primarily through South East Asia, especially within Borneo, Malaysia. This is said to be due to a miscommunication between the English and local tribespeople during the English colonial era.
The English sent a message to the tribespeople stating that if one found the flower on their land, they must do all they can to protect it. However, this message was interpreted as that the english would occupy the tribes peoples land if a flower was found there. This lead to the local people destroying all the flowers on their land.
In addition to this culling of the plant, the strict conditions needed for this flower to bloom add to its declining numbers. The Rafflesia arnoldii is a parasite that can only grow on a certain vine, the Tetrastigma vine. It is the only vine that is hardy enough to host the endoparasite that creates the flower.
This vine only grows in specific conditions and biologists are still unable to recreate the environment needed for a Rafflesia to bloom. Thus a trip to South East Asia is needed in order to suffice any desire to observe the Rafflesia arnoldii.
Is Rafflesia arnoldii really the worlds largest flower ?
The flowers can grow up to 1.5m across and you could put your head into the centre of one, fairly large. As with its main competition for ‘worlds largest flower’ the ‘Titan Arum’, Rafflesia arnoldii has a rotting meat odour that it uses to attract pollinating insects, however this smell is not noticeable until the end of the flowers lifecycle, which is about 5-7 days.
The Rafflesia arnoldii is a must see if you are travelling through South East Asia, however you may need a bit of luck on your side to be in the right place at the right time. Huge orange speckled flowers and the buds have been used traditionally for medicinal purposes.
So which is the largest flower in the world, we suggest that it is the elusive Rafflesia arnoldii, as it is one flower, the Titan Arum is actually a collection of many small flowers known as an ‘unbranched inflorescence’.