12 May Rafflesia
The biggest flower in the world- Rafflesia
Rafflesia plants are found in the tropical rainforests of South-east Asia. There are about 30 different types of species of them. The flowers have a diameter up to 1 meter. The flower itself usually consists of five red-brownish- colored, leathery petals. Rafflesia is a parasite plant to the wild grapes. It has no leaves, roots, stem and sprouts. Therefore it cannot perform photosynthesis. The plant invades lianas and absorbs all of its nutrients from its hosts. The flower doesn’t damage the host, but weakens it.
Because of its color and a certain smell it emits (sweet but also like rotting flesh), the flower attracts flies and other insects for pollination (humans can only sometimes smell the Rafflesia flower). The attracted flies transport pollen from male flowers to female flowers. This task might seem simpler than it actually is. As Rafflesias have separated female and male flowers both flowers should be located in the same area and have to be blooming at the same time for pollination. Fruits are thus extremely rare. Furthermore a fruit would take around one year to be fully developed. One fruit contains several thousands of seeds which are spread by animals such as squirrels.
The Rafflesia flower needs a warm and humid climate to grow. If the ground is too wet, the flower buds begin to rot before blooming, if it is too hot, it dries up. Many sources write that the Rafflesia flower produces small flower buds only once a year, which grow to volleyball size. When the flower opens its petals it blooms only for a very short period of time (around 3-7days). From producing flower buds till blooming it can take up to nine months.
Unfortunately only a few flower buds make it to flowers. Many flower buds are eaten by rats or squirrels before blooming. Often flower buds are also trampled by tourists on trekking tours.
The plant doesn’t have a certain blooming season. It blooms according to its region and according to the rainfall. Many sources say Rafflesia flowers are mostly found from October to March. According to our experience there are more Rafflesia flowers especially during the rainy season.
The Rafflesia flower is the symbol flower of the province Surat Thani in South Thailand. The Khao Sok National Park, to which we offer trips, is located in Surat Thani.
On our tours to Khao Sok National Park and especially on our Offroad Safari we have seen Rafflesia flowers. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee that you will see the biggest flower in the world.