Rafflesia are the largest flowers in the world and can grow up to 90cm in diameter, weighing 7 kg! Rafflesias are red with white and yellow spots. There are three species of Rafflesia that grow in Khao Sok. The flower looks like a giant red bowl lined with yellow spotted petals. They exude a strong smell – similar to the smell you would expect to find near a rotten carcass or a dustbin. The reason is that these flowers are not pollinated by insects seeking nectar; rather they are pollinated by flies.
Rafflesias are parasites, able to grow on one specific plant only, the wild grape vine Tetrastigma. The Rafflesia got its name from the leader of the expedition which first discovered the flower in Indonesia in 1818: Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. It is the official flower of Surat Thani province. Unfortunately, rafflesias are becoming increasingly rare due to habitat losses and collection by humans.
Did you know...?
… that despite the smell the buds and flower itself are considered a delicacy in Thailand? They are also ascribed some medicinal qualities.