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Sabah's Rafflesia Rainforest Reserve

Rafflesia Rainforest Reserve

Rafflesia Rainforest Reserve is undoubtedly the best place to see the world's biggest flower; it is located in Crocker Range near the village of Tambunan, approximately 1 hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. The slightly cooler upland forests of the Crocker Ranges provide an ideal habitat for this botanical wonder; many species of Rafflesia prefer low-montane area, generally 450 to 1200 m in altitude. Jungle trekking and the sight of a Rafflesia in full bloom make the Rafflesia Forest Reserve an interesting place to visit.

The natural vegetation here is of the oak or chestnut types. Large trees, especially of Shoreas, can be found on ridges and slopes. One Shores with a girth of just under 600 cm was found at an elevation of 1350 m. Near the Park Rafflesia Information Centre offers information about the plant and there is also an extensive network of forest trails to explore in order to see the flower itself.


 Rafflesia Bud

Rafflesia Sabah 

Rafflesia Sabah 

Rafflesia world's largest parasitic flower

Rafflesia is the world's largest parasitic flower, one of the wonders of the botanical world. The 18 known species within the genus of Rafflesia are found throughout South East Asia, at altitudes between 500 and 700 meters in the tropical rainforests where the climate is continously warm and humid.

It was discovered during an expedition to South-Western Sumatra in 1818 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and Dr Joseph Arnold. When finally described in 1821, it was named Rafflesia Arnoldi to commemorate both naturalists.

The Rafflesia body consists of thread like growths on the tissues of a Tetrastigma vine root, on which it is parasitic. The plant produces no leaves, stems or roots and does not contain chlorophyll.

The Rafflesia can be seen only when it is ready to reproduce, when the parasitic growths on the vine form a lump that develop into a structure somewhat resembling a cabbage. This cabbage-like bud bursts through the host's bark, and after about 9 months will open to reveal the massive 5-petaled flowerm with stamens abd pistils, which develops into a fruit with seeds. The flowers, which sit directly on the forest floor, are each either male or female (female flowers are particularly rare), can measure more than a meter across and weigh 10 kilograms.

Flowers are assumed to be pollinated by carrion flies and bluebottles, which are attracted by the sight of the bloom and its smell which resemble rotting flesh. The center of the flowers contain numerous spikes whose function are unknown, and it also holds several gallons of nectar. The fruit produced is round and about 15 cm in diameter, with thousands of tiny seeds.

Species of Rafflesia in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo




Rafflesia arnoldii

Borneo, Sarawak, West Kalimantan

Rafflesia azlanii

Penisular Malaysia

Rafflesia cantleyi

Penisular Malaysia

Rafflesia hasseltii

Penisular Malaysia

Rafflesia keithii

Borneo, Sabah, East Kalimantan

Rafflesia kerrii

Penisular Malaysia

Rafflesia pricei

Borneo, Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, Kalimantan

Rafflesia tengku-adlinii

Borneo Sabah

Rafflesia tuan-mudae

Borneo West Sarawak

Jungle trekking | Flora gazing | Photography

Getting There
Tambunan is accessible from Kota Kinabalu, the journey is about 1 hour drive