Wednesday,March 11, 2020

Featured Wildlife Species (Flora)

Rafflesia speciosa

Rafflesia species are parasitic plants and holds the recognition as the World’s Largest Flower. Rafflesia speciosa is one of the 13 species of Rafflesia found in the Philippines. It was discovered in the mountains of Sibalom Natural Park in Antique, Panay in 2002. This medium-sized Rafflesia is known to occur only in the island of Panay where it thrives in lowland secondary forest patches in dry areas under thick leaf litter.

Locally known as “Uruy” and “Karay-a” in the Panay Peninsula, it may take up to nine months to spring from seed to pod to flower. The flowers of Rafflesia Speciosa takes about 18 hours to expand fully but a short-term bloomer that only last up to 3-5 days. It was adopted as the symbol of the Sibalom Natural Park and the municipality of Sibalom in Antique, Panay. The population of this new species are currently categorized as Endangered as their habitats are threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture and deforestation.

Among the 13 Rafflesia species found in the Philippines, rafflesia schadenbergiana is the biggest recorded flower measuring about 0.8 meters in diameter and can be found in Mt. Apo in Davao. The rafflesia consueloae discovered last 2014 is considered smallest species among the giant Rafflesia flower with an average diameter of 9.73 centimeters. It was discovered in the more than 97,000-hectare Pantabangan-Carranglan watershed in Nueva Ecija province by team of biologists from the University of the Philippines.

The Rafflesia flower is rusty or reddish brown, composed of 5 petal-like structures (perigones) which are variously designed with whitish warts of different shapes. The perigones are subtended by several whorls of bracts that are covered by a cupule in young buds. Right next to the perigone lobes is a diaphragm, inside of which and can be viewed through a central orifice (opening), are processes attached to a dome-shaped central disk. One unique character of Rafflesia is its smell that resembles rotting meat so that when in bloom, flies are attracted to the flowers making them the best agents of pollination. The flowers are unisexual, i.e. they are either male or female.


Family: Rafflesiaceae
Genus: Rafflesia
Known Species: 28
Range: S-E Asian (Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, Philippines)
Habitat: Parasite
Host plant: Some species of Tetrastigma Vine, found in the rainforest.
Biology: Pollinated by flies
Status: Threatened
Largest bloom: R. Arnoldii – max. diameter: 106.7 m (3 ft 6 in), max. weight: 11 kilograms (24 lb)
Discovery: R. Arnoldii, Indonesia, 1818 (Stamford Raffles and James Arnold)

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