Rafflesia - The Largest Philippine Flower
The Rafflesia comes from the major family of flowering plants which are parasitic. It has an estimate of 28 main species which could be found in Southeast Asian countries one of which is the Philippines. Rafflesia was first discovered in an Indonesian rain forest. It was found by Dr. Joseph Arnold’s guide in 1818. The plant though got its name from the leader of that expedition. His name was Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. The Rafflesia was originally found in between years 1791-94 by Louis Deschamps but according to history his notes bout it were captured by the British.
The plant has a unique body which is void of stems, leaves nor does it have roots. Instead it only consists of an absorptive organ which is located inside the vine. It belongs to the holoparasite vines of the Vitaceae. On the outside the plant looks like a flower with five large petals around its body. The size of the Rafflesia in diameter is 100cm with a weight of 22pounds. Aside from looking rotten there emanates from it a rotten smell which is why it has many local names. Some call it the “rotten flower” and others would name it the “meat flower” because it looks like meat. Remarkably, the rotten smell of the flower draws insects to it.
There are two general species of the Rafflesia. The first one is the Malaysian and the other is the Philippine species. In 2002, Filipino scientists set out for myriads of research activities where they discovered various species of the Giant Flower. The first Rafflesia was discovered in Antique Province on the mountains. Its features were unique compared to all other species that were found. By 2005, the next rafflesia was found in Compostela Valley of Mindanao. It had an equal size with that of the first rafflesia having a size of 50-65 centimeters in diameter.
In 1991 a collection of Rafflesia species were found but were not given names. In 2006 Danny Balete collected them all and studied them to find out that they were different from the R.manillana found in Luzon. Thus it was given the name R. baletei. In the following year another group of species was found by Dr. Julie Barcelona in Bukidnon. Another was found on the same year in Mount Banahaw of Luzon. Every year since 2002 scientists would find new species of this giant flower from different cities and provinces of the country. Until in 2010 the tenth Rafflesia was discovered.
The most famous Rafflesia discovered in the Philippines is called the Rafflesia philippensis. It was given its name by Blanco. It has a diameter of twenty nine up to thirty two centimeters when it has fully opened. Its species were found to be scattered around the vicinities of the Mount Banahaw National Park. In 2003 the park was closed for the Rafflesia researchers to make more studies on the population of the plant.
Among other names the plant is known also as the “corpse flower” because of its odor and meat-like structure. It has 20 general species known to exist. Despite its gigantic size, the flower is said to be safe to touch.