|Closeup of a flower measuring around 65 cm in diameter|
Rafflesia tuan-mudae is a member of the Rafflesiaceae family. It lives as a parasite on the Tetrastigma vine. The enormous flowers may reach up to 1 m in diameter. The buds normally emerge where the vine is growing along the ground, unlike some of the other Rafflesia species whose buds can emerge from vines hanging in the air.
In the Malaysian language, tuan-mudae translates as 'Beloved or young Prince' after Charles Brooke the British Rajah of Sarawak. Locally the flower is referred to as bunga pakma - "bunga" means "flower" in Malaysian.
Typically the flowers are around 60 cm in diameter opening from a 20 cm bud. Occasionally these buds reach 30 cm in diameter in which case a flower nearly 1 m across may form.
The flowers can be found on liana-like vines, specifically Tetrastigma sp.. The seeds reach the host plant by an unknown animal vector, penetrate the tissue of the root and grow inside the host tissue for an indefinite period of time before buds develop. The bud develops for 9 months, before it becomes a gigantic orange to red flower. It stays in full bloom for just 7 days. The main pollinator for this flower are flies. All Rafflesia flowers emit a rotting meat stench attracting pollinators, although the smell of R. tuan-mudae is comparatively mild. However, they are no less effective at attracting these flies, upon whose back pollen is deposited.
Male and female flowers can only be identified by fingering under the central disk for the anthers. However, visitors are encouraged not to touch or handle the buds in particular, as they are fragile and may die.
In Sarawak, one of the easiest locations to see R. tuan-mudae is at Gunung Gading National Park, at the park headquarters or near Waterfall 7. In July 2008, one of the largest flowers measuring 95 cm was recorded in the park. This is probably the one measured and photographed by Dr. D. L. Nickrent of Southern Illinois University at this location. Some taxonomists consider R. tuan-mudae and R. arnoldi to be subspecies of the same taxon.
- Forest Department Sarawak: Gunung Gading National Park[permanent dead link]
- "Rafflesia tuan-mudae" at www.science.siu.edu/parasitic-plants/Rafflesiaceae/Raff.TuanMudae.page.html