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Rafflesia

Whilst the Rafflesia flower genus comprises quite a few separate species, Anambas is home to the largest species of all, Rafflesia arnoldii.

The actual Rafflesia flower can attain a total width in excess of one meter and the flower mass can exceed 10 kg, in part due to its petal-like lobes reaching 2-3 cm thickness. Small wonder that Sir Stamford Raffles called it "The largest and most magnificent flower in the world", before naming the species after himself and his companion, Dr. James Arnold, after discovering the behemoth in 1818.

Rafflesia is also known as "smelly flower" or "corpse flower", due to its strong distasteful odour, which is said to resemble decomposing meat. It uses this smell to attract flies and other carrion-eaters, which then aid in pollination.

But Rafflesia isn't just unusually large and smelly, it's actually one of the rarest flowers in the world. In fact, unfortunately, Rafflesia is on the virge of extinction. Apart from its ever-shrinking habitat, the other main reason for Rafflesia's hapless demise is that seed germination seems to occur quite infrequently.

As a matter of fact, even when germination is successful, most the resulting flower buds tend to die prematurely, i.e. before they get a chance to bloom and pollinate with another flower. Those flowers that do manage to bloom, only do so for a few days, which means pollination is actually a bit of a long-shot.

With all these odds stacked against it, it's easy to see why spotting a Rafflesia flower in full blooming glory is rather a rare and pretty much unique event.

If you'd like to see Rafflesia in the "flesh" so to speak, then head for Anambas. We'll take you to several locations known to be Rafflesia hotspots. Of course, we can't guarantee there will be flowers in bloom, as this is in the hands of nature. However, in most cases, we'll be able to at least see flower buds or the remnants of flowers that have been in bloom. Hopefully, luck will be on our side.

 
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