LUNDU, Sept 21, 2015:
The Rafflesia Tuan Mudae is blooming again at Gunung Gading National Park.
The Tuan Mudae is one of the eight known Rafflesia species that can be found in Malaysia. It is endemic to the southern part of Sarawak and western Kalimantan.
“It is the smaller version of the ones typically found in Sabah, the Arnoldii, that can grow as large as one metre in diameter,” said Gunung Gading Park warden Mohd Kasyfullah Zaini when met by The Rakyat Post.
Kasyfullah said the Tuan Mudae can grow between 40cm to 90cm in diameter. It blooms for five to seven days.
Like the rest of the Rafflesia, this rare parasite relies on the Tetrastigma vine as its host.
It normally blooms where the vines are growing along the ground, unlike other Rafflesia species, which can bloom from the hanging vines.
Kasyfullah said its name, “Tuan Mudae” or “Young Prince” in Malay, came from the second White Rajah Charles Brooke in the late 19th century.
“It can bloom 20 times in a year, especially within the foothills of Gunung Gading.
“It is a delicate flower and will only bloom when the conditions are right.
“If it is too wet or dry, it may not fully bloom,” said Kasyfullah.
Gunung Gading National Park is located 120km from Kuching and the park has prepared trails to the known blooming areas to ease access for visitors.
The Tuan Mudae began blooming on Saturday (Sept 19) and it is expected to last till this Thursday (Sept 24).
It is 40cm in diameter and has five petals.
Under the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the Tuan Mudae is classified as a vulnerable Rafflesia species in Malaysia.
In the state, it is classified as a Totally Protected Plant under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.
Any person who collects, cuts, removes, offers for sale, imports, exports or is in possession of any Rafflesia species, can be jailed two years and fined RM25,000 upon conviction.
The biggest threat for any Rafflesia and its host plant is habitat loss through forest destruction for development or other activities, human trampling and illegal collection of leaves and buds for medicinal purposes.
Kasyfullah also said apart from that, biological threats were also a concern.
“For successful reproduction, insect pollinators have to visit both male and female plants, which may not be in close proximity or may also not necessarily mature and bloom at the same time.
“The buds also have a high mortality rate level, where only 10-18% are able to bloom. Squirrels and termites may also feed on the bud.
“So every one has a role to play to conserve this rare flower,” Kasyfullah added.