Travel Tips

Searching for Rafflesia

  • 2012-03-18

Rafflesia, also known as the flower king, meat flower and corpse flower is very popular among tourist. However, local travel agencies would boast that Sabah has the world largest flower. In fact, there are many species of Rafflesia scattered around South East Asia, and the largest of them are Indonesia’s Rafflesia Arnoldii which can reach up to 1 meter in diameter.   

When rafflesia flower blooms, it will emit a vile smell to attract flies to help spread its pollen. Although rafflesia does not really eat human, it is still a strange plant. Rafflesia has no leaves, no roots, no stem and no chlorophyll, therefore all its nutrients and waters comes from the Tetrastigma vines it inhabits.  Rafflesia seeds need six to nine months to bloom, but will wither in a week. Without a fixed flowering season, one can only stumble upon a rafflesia by chance. Many do not know where to look for the flower, let alone seeing one. After reading below guide, and with extra luck, seeing a rafflesia is actually not difficult.
Sabah has 3 types of Rafflesia, and the Keithii spacies is the most widely scattered and easiest to find.

1. Rafflesia Keithii
Has a diameter up to 80cm, the largest species in Sabah. It can be easily found at Poring. There is also another located behind a house in Kg Kokob, but one need to pay a RM10-RM20 entrance fee. You can call Sabah Tourism Board (088-212121) to ask for the state of the flower bloom before you go there.   

2. Rafflesia Pricei
Has a diameter of 30cm. The cute Pricei species has stripes of white warts on its petal. You can see the flowers at the Rafflesia Information Centre at Tambunan. Group entrance fee is RM50 (1 to 6 persons), so it is better to go in a group of 6. If luck were on your side you’ll be able to see one in 5 minutes walk or in an hour if you’re unlucky. Call the centre (088-898500 / 898501) first to make sure if the flowers are blooming to avoid wasted trip.

3. Rafflesia Tengku Adlinii
Rafflesia Tengku Adlinii  is the smallest and rarest species with a diameter of 20cm. The species is only found at Maliau Basin.

The best time to see it is one to three days after blooming and its petal edge will begin to turned black on the fourth day. After six days the flower will withered and decompose.  

Special thanks to kong