When people think of the natural wonders
of the plant kingdom Borneo is what springs to mind. But we’re here in the jungles of Peninsular
Malaysia. We’ve just walked into the great state of Kelantan, over the
border of Perak, and we want to see something entirely remarkable. First documented in the late 18th century by French botanist, Louis Deschamps, Rafflesia is the largest flower in the world.
At about 85 centimeters in diameter this specimen isn’t even the largest.
But Rafflesia kerrii, which we find here in northern Malaysia
and in southern Thailand, is the second largest species there is. Of the 15 or 20 species of Rafflesia recognised they’re all characterised by the same features: five perigon lobes which are equivalent to
the petals of any other flower and inside, a corollary disk which is specialised to release pheromones that, well, attract flies. Hence the common name of the “corpse flower”. It smells of rotting meat. About five days ago, this was a Rafflesia bloom in its prime. At approximately 110 centimetres across,
this is almost as large as these plants get, making this one of nature’s true spectacles. Here you can see a bloom of Rafflesia growing on its own vine tetrastigma. It’s about 20-25 centimeters across
and it’s about three days from flowering. At 30 centimeters across this bloom is just a day away from coming into flower.
At the moment it doesn’t smell of anything at all. But tomorrow is another day…