Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rafflesia: World Largest Flower I Sighted at Kota Kinabalu

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

When I decided to spend my post birthday celebration in Kota Kinabalu, I have no idea what places to visit or what to do while over there. I told myself,I will leave it up to my CS host Chel to decide where to bring me. When I got to the airport and while waiting for Chel to show up,I picked up one of those brochures from tour company and read about Rafflesia, a giant flower that is associated with the forest of Kota Kinabalu!

I remembered about Rafflesia when it was featured on my favorite “Kapuso Mo,Jessica Soho" tv show in Channel 7 in 2008. As I recall, Rafflesia is claimed to be the largest flower on earth, and it can be found only in the rainforests of South East Asia like Malaysia,Borneo and the Philippines.

Rafflesia is an official state flower for the state of Sabah in Malaysia, so it is very much sought after by tourists. Rafflesia,however, is rarely seen, because it needs the right humidity and warmth for it to blossom. It takes seven (7) to nine (9) months for the Rafflesia to grow from bud to flower and Rafflesia will last only for four (4) to five (5) days. Because of its rarity, my CS host Chel and her sisters who lived in Kota Kinabalu all their lives have not yet seen the actual Rafflesia flower.

Today, our wishes come true! On our way to Mount Kinabalu, we were on the look out for the elusive Rafflesia flower sign on the road. We learned that owners of the surrounding lands will put up a "Rafflesia Blooming" sign, if there happens to have Rafflesia flower in full blossom. The land owners normally charge RM 10 each person per visit. Lucky me again, because the land owner didn't charge much for locals. We paid RM 10 for the four of us (me being considered local!).

Rafflesia is actually a parasite flower as it is rootless, shootless and leafless.The Rafflesia flower has a very distinctive bright red orange colour, and has small spikes in the middle disk. Although it was said that Rafflesia flower, has a strong smell like rotten meat, I didn't smell it at all. Well,could be because it was the last day for the life span of the Rafflesia flower we spotted!!

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