Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand is certainly one of the places to go for outdoor lovers. Some have estimated the virgin forest at the park is even older than the Amazon in Brazil! That’s amazing. And that’s not all. They even say that the wildlife here is even more diverse than at the Brazilian jungle. Pretty neat, huh? Included in this diversity is a pretty rare and vulnerable flower species only seen here and on the border with Malaysia. And might we add, smelly! This is the Rafflesia Kerrii, also known as the Bua Phut or Bua Tum in Thai.
And one more thing, this flower is big! How big? Try 50-90 centimeters in diameter big, making it is one of the world’s largest flowers. And all you’ll ever see of this aromatic (we are being sarcastic here) and huge plant is the flower itself. No stems, no leaves and no roots. Just its huge pinkish/orange petals and spiky stigma.
Any why that odor? Shouldn’t a flower this big have at least a half decent smell? In case you are trying to picture its scent back home, it reeks of old rotten meat. And guess what animals are attracted to it? That’s right, flies. The flower depends on flies for pollination, which fully explains its unique smell.
Unfortunately, the flower is endangered. There weren’t that many to begin with but people stepping on them by accident or trampling on the host plant or young buds for a close up photograph of the flower contributes to the Rafflesia Kerrii’s low numbers. Another reason why these flowers’ numbers are low is because of its short life span. Small buds appear along the trunk and roots of the host, which after nine months opens the giant flowers. After just one week the flower dies.
When is the best time to see these flowers? These giant smelly pieces of natural beauty are seasonal plants. They tend to bloom during the Thailand’s dry season months, from January to March and rarely, until July.
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