Jumat, 07 Maret 2008

Archive for the 'Nature - Rafflesia Flower' Category

Archive for the 'Nature - Rafflesia Flower' Category

Rafflesia - The living dead “meat”

RAFFLESIA IS FASCINATING. It has no root, stem, branch or leaf. Botanists are not sure whether to call it a plant or not. For most of the time, it is only a chain of cells living exclusively inside host Tetrastigma vine. Every once a while, its flower bud burst out and gets a peek at the outside world.

The Rafflesia flower is known as “bunga pakma” by locals; Bunga is flower in Malay, and Pakma is derived from ancient language Sanskrit for lotus – a symbol for purity and fertility. The Rafflesia gets its name from Sir Stamford Raffles (1781- 1826), the founder of Singapore, who together with companion Dr. Joseph Arnold stumbled upon these fiery blooms while trekking in the rainforest in 19th century. The first specimen was named Rafflesia Arnoldii. Subsequently, 20 species of Rafflesia have been recorded so far. Sometimes called the “Stinking Corpse Lily” by early English colonial settlers (although not all species stink), the flowers are traditionally used after childbirth to aid shrinking of womb and restore female figure. Rafflesia is presently listed as threatened by IUCN due to habitat loss and natural reproduction difficulties.

Two critical timings are required for successful pollination;
- As high as 60-70% flower buds die from lack of nutrients and predation by wildlife.
- The Rafflesia is unisexual. It needs male and female flowers to bloom in close proximity. This is an overwhelming task considering buds take 7-8 months to grow but only bloom for 4-5 days.

album4 album5
“Cabbages” that sprout from vines on the forest floor are better off for blooming. That said, they still have to endure months of danger from being eaten by herbivores that roam the forest floor.

Not many buds clinging on the vines can survive and bloom. As the bud grow bigger, its weight causes the bud to fall off.

Tetrastigma vine laden with Rafflesia buds is a rare sight. We were very lucky to spot this.


Every once a while, miracle happens and some hardy buds cling on and bloom into a rare fiery spectacle. Rare sight like this makes one appreciate the rainforest more. Exotic takes on a new meaning.

Isn’t this breathtaking? Botanists believe Rafflesia is the only plant in the world capable of “playing dead”. Its waxy thick red petals resemble decaying meat. It even smells like one too. Some Rafflesia species emit such a horrible stench, nose pinching is necessary to get near them. These characteristics hoodwink flies and insects to stopover and fly away with spores for pollination. Good trick or what?

Rafflesia takes 7-8 months to grow but only bloom for 2-3 days! Trekkers need some luck to spot one.

Only the deepest rainforest is home to the Tetrastigma vines which house Rafflesia cells. Fitness and pure grit is needed to trek the jungle and go away with rare shots of the fiery flower.

After its full bloom, the flower withers and turns black. This photo was taken 2 weeks after full bloom.

This photo was taken 1 week after full bloom.

Tidak ada komentar:


Template Design By: