Rafflesia flowers found on Mount Makiling hiking trail
Calling all hiking enthusiasts: a critically endangered species of Rafflesia is now flowering along the popular Mariang Makiling Trail of the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve, a 4,244-hectare key biodiversity hotspot in Los Baños, Laguna. The protected area is located 75 km south of Manila and has been declared an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2013.
Where to find Rafflesia
This specific species of Rafflesia, R. lagascae is speckled, saucer-sized, and is found only in the island of Luzon. Locally called malabo-o, it belongs to a group of parasitic plants that produces the world’s largest single flower, measuring over a meter in diameter.
Of the 36 known species in the world, 13 can be found only in the Philippines, making the archipelago a center of diversity for this unusual flora. Other accessible places to marvel at the other kinds of Rafflesia in the country are San Remigio, Antique (110 km from Iloilo City) and Maragusan, Compostela Valley (140 km from Davao City).
The endemic species was first described by Spanish botanist Fr. Francisco Manuel Blanco in 1845 from specimens collected in nearby Mount Banahaw.
Apart from the Philippines, Rafflesia thrive in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Lacking leaves, stems and true roots, Rafflesia live inside woody jungle vines upon which their reddish, fleshy flowers emerge. It takes several months for their cabbage-like buds to mature, while the actual bloom only last a few days, making them a very special sight to behold.
The conspicuous, “alien-looking” blooms often emit a foul odor to attract flies and other pollinators. The smell can become so strong and similar to decaying flesh, that it’s sometimes referred to as the “corpse lily” or “corpse flower”.
The local flower usually blooms during the dry season, coinciding with the flowering of the turquoise jade vine, another attractive Philippine plant found along the trail.
Rafflesia watching 101
- Visit Rafflesia sites with a trained local guide.
- Approach with care to avoid trampling on flowers, buds and host vines.
- Resist the urge to touch: the Rafflesia is sensitive
- Help protect their habitat by adhering to Leave No Trace principles.
Contact the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems for more information about Mount Makiling Forest Reserve: fb.com/makilingcenter or +63 49 5363572
Cebu Pacific flies to Manila, where buses can take you to Los Baños, Laguna in two hours. cebupacificair.com