A weekend with Rafflesia flowers at Gunung Gading National Park

A nine-day withered rafflesia and a two-day blooming rafflesia at Gunung Gading National Park (January 16, 2023). DayakDaily photo.

Follow and subscribe to DayakDaily on Telegram for faster news updates.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Jan 16: Hundreds of visitors thronged Gunung Gading National Park at Lundu to see for themselves the two Rafflesia flowers in bloom yesterday (Jan 15).

To ensure that visitors have the best experience and a correct understanding of the Rafflesia, tour guides were provided at a minimum charge of RM3 per person, after an entrance fee of RM10.

For a mere RM3, the tour guides will do more than show visitors where and what these flowers are.

Along the short distance from the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) headquarters to the locations of the two flowers, they will share their knowledge of flora and fauna encountered along the way, making the short journey even more meaningful and memorable.

A blue-coloured centipede at Gunung Gading National Park (Jan 15, 2023). Photo by DayakDaily

SFC allowed the public to see the two Rafflesia flowers in bloom, one 55cm and another 57cm in diameter, located approximately 100m and 250m away from the headquarters, respectively. Both were two days old as of yesterday when this DayakDaily journalist visited the national park.

Many may know that the Rafflesia is the biggest flower, but perhaps some may not know the following three things about it.

According to SFC tour guide Antonia, it may even bloom on top of a tree canopy, against the general perception that they only grow on the ground.

However, due to its large size, it is usually unable to stay on top of the tree for too long, also considering its short life span as a flower of four days, or a maximum of a week, and the strong wind as well as the constant tropical heavy downpour.

Secondly, the Rafflesia species in Gunung Gading, the tuan-mudae (Young Prince), is not as smelly as most would have imagined. At a close range, one can only detect a faint stench which the flower exudes to attract insects, especially carrion flies, but it is nothing like the smell of ‘decomposing’ or rotten meat.

Thirdly, there are usually many Rafflesia flowers blooming at the Gunung Gading National Park simultaneously. The national park, however, only identifies one or two close to the headquarters to be opened to the public. — DayakDaily

The fruit of the ‘corpse flower’ spotted at Gunung Gading National Park on Jan 15, 2023. Photo by DayakDaily