The Rafflesia is the largest flower in the world, weighing up to 7 kg (15 lb) and measuring up to 1 m across. Found in rainforests of East Malaysia, Sabah, it is a rare sight. I have never seen one in full bloom.
The Rafflesia flower is unique because it is parasitic and has no stem, leaves or roots. It appears to grow up from the forest floor. It is said that the flower, itself emits the stench of rotting meat to attract certain flies. To get a reasonably good chance of seeing the Rafflesia, the first time visitor should head for the Rafflesia Forest Reserve at Tambunan. The entrance to this Reserve lies on the Kota Kinabalu-Tambunan main road at 58km, about two hours drive from the city Just adjacent to the Crocker Range National Park, the Reserve encompasses an area of 356 hectares of highland forest. Gazetted since 1984, this Reserve is an important tourist attraction. It has an information centre and also exhibits replicas of this magnificent flower.
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The Rafflesia is a rare flower, growing only when conditions are right. A number of plots have been identified and marked trails lead one to the massive blooms. It may be a few minutes walk or a few hours, it all depends on your luck. But be prepared for steep descents and an arduous return journey. Including blood-sucking leeches, if it is wet.
It is unlikely that this is still practiced, but I read that the bud was once sought after as a traditional medicine. The buds were boiled in water and the concoction is given to recuperating new mothers, to help them regain their strength.
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