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Rafflesia is claimed to be the largest flower on earth, and it can be found only in the rainforests of South East Asia. Rafflesia is rarely seen, because it needs the perfect condition of right humidity and warmth for it to blossom. As many as seven to nine months are needed for the Rafflesia to grow from bud to flower. After blossom the Rafflesia flower will last only 4 to 5 days, as the strong smell of the flower attracts small animals to feast on it.
Rafflesia was first discovered in the year 1881 in the forests of Indonesia, and was named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, who was also well known as the founder of the city of Singapore. The Rafflesia flower has a very distinctive bright red orange colour, and has small spikes in the middle disk. Rafflesia flower, after blossom, also has a strong smell like rotten meat. Some species of Rafflesia flower are known to be as large as 120 cm in diametre.
As an official state flower for the state of Sabah in Malaysia, the Rafflesia flower is very much sought after by tourists. To see this rare flowers depends on availability, one can check with the forest rangers at the Rafflesia Centre near Tambunan. Or one can look out for the Rafflesia flower sign on the road that leads to Poring Hot Spring. Owners of the surrounding lands near Poring Hot Spring will put up a Rafflesia flower road sign, if their land happens to have Rafflesia flower in full blossom. These land owners normally charge RM 10 per visit, and visitors will have to trek 15 to 20 minutes on foot to reach the Rafflesia flower.
Rafflesia flower is normally found not far from a small stream, and at shadowy places. Below are two photos of the Rafflesia's habitat forest at Poring Hot Spring area.
Author's Note: The rafflesia flower photos were taken on the 27th of April 2008 at Poring Hot Spring area.