Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rafflesia Hunt!

Primeval Makiling
Against the backdrop of lush greens
Metchie on a fallen tree
It was something too good to pass on. I heard form Ron Achacoso that Rafflesia flowered in Mt. Makiling last week.  The flower lasts a few days so we took our chances and made the trip up the popular mountain. They said it is easy to see  provided the plant was still in bloom. 

Rafflesia is in the botany limelight as the genus of the biggest single flower.  The Makiling Rafflesia might not be the biggest, but to see a species in bloom is quite a rare experience.  The makiling Rafflesia might be R. manilensis.   Together with a few more friends, Noel, Ernie and Metchie, we set on our own journey to find one still in bloom.
The Makiling Rafflesia
Ernie who found the fresh bloom
Metchie trying to smell the stinker
We followed the forest ranger's instructions going up the trail but warned us to have a keen eye. We walked a couple of hours before we reached an area where we could already see a proliferation of the Tetrastigma vine, Rafflesia's plant host. A few minutes more, Noel and Ron spotted the first bloom, but already black and discarded.  There were a few buds, pending to open in a few days. But we still have to find one in full bloom and in dazzling red color.

Old flower
Ron and Noel checking out the specimen
It was Ernie who spotted the still bright  red Rafflesia flower, hidden in between the vine sprays and the leaf litter. It was on a steep slope, partly obscured from plain view by debris and the Tetrastigma branches.  We can't resist taking souvenir photos to commemorate the occasion.  I took numerous shots of the elusive plant celebrity, as many as I could.

The Makiling Rafflesia is about the size of a small plate.  Metchie wanted to know if it had the reputed putrid stink and drew her nose close to the open bloom. She regretted it.  She said the scent could compare to raw shrimp paste or bagoong, fresh from the market. I just took he word for it.

After a few more minutes of observing the Rafflesia and the surrounding flora, we went down the mountain trail with large smiles and the precious memory of personally encountering the largest stink flower of Makiling.  We hope that we get to find it again when we climb the mountain in many years to come.     

9 comments:

Alex San Celestino said...

Patrick!!! I want to see! You think it's still there, or you think the area might hopefully be profuse and we'll likely catch one in bloom?

metscaper said...

Probably. but make it soon.

IndieEscape said...

Hi, I want to make a trip to Makiling to see this!! When did you guys go there? Is this coming from UPLB trail? And is it before or after the flatrocks? Thanks in advance!!!

Melanie Bernardo said...

Hi.. My friends will be climbing in Makiling next week and they are still of hope to see this. Would you let me know which area in Makiling can they see this? Is it out of UPLB trail?? thanks! :D

metscaper said...

Some friends climbed yesterday and found one still in bloom. on trail to peak.

fort molina said...

Hi Patrick! I joined just now. I studied in UPLB but only for 2 years. I have a question, do u know anyone who sells Philippine endemic plants and trees for landscaping?

Also, do you think it's okay for me to grow a jade vine over my big mango tree? im thinking of what it would look like. but i guess the flowers will still be seen since they extend up to 4 meters they say. i am also fascinated in medinillas and staghorns! i only have a few.

im living in cainta btw. thanks!

Derick Buendia said...

Hi Patrick,

I went to Sta Cruz Laguna yesterday, I saw a Rafflesia about to bloom... these flowers are considered as pests there. the farmers are actually having a hard time getting rid of it because if you cut the bulb into a hundred pieces, a hundred pieces will grow! It's quite an odd plant because the flower will just emerge from the soil and when it dies, a rafflesia plant will grow in it's place! Locals call it Pongapong btw.

Regards,

Derick

metscaper said...

Hi Derick. I think what you are referring as pungapung is another plant they call Amorphophallus. It is more common and much different.

Derick Buendia said...

Amorphophallus... that's probably it, had to look it up in the net... great work you're doing here, ope you wouldn't get tired sharing your knowledge of native trees... thanks a lot!

Regards,

Derick