Different types of Rafflesia - Photos are published under CC attribution license (Click on the images to enlarge gallery)

Rafflesia Threats

The Rafflesia is a sensitive life form. Its flowering episode is very brief, usually not more than a week. Then, it withers and dies to become forest nutrient.

Whether it is going to bloom again the following year depends on several factors such as presence of the right host, and the presence of the opposite sex of the flower for pollination to take place. The plant fails to bloom when its habitat or the forest is disturbed.

Rafflesia Status:

In 1997 Rafflesia was included on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants being classified as endangered (Rafflesia manillana), Vulnerable (Rafflesia keithii and Rafflesia pricei), Rare (Rafflesia cantleyi, Rafflesia kerrii and Rafflesia zollingeriana) and Intermediate (Rafflesia hasseltii).

See bellow the main threats list:

Illegal Collectors

Among some particular factors that are putting the species in danger, one of the threats for Rafflesia are the illegal collectors as the plant is widely used as a traditional remedy in Southeast Asia, being prescribed for several internal injuries and also to treat infertility. They usually sell for a hefty price.

High Mortality Level

The high mortality level of the flower buds is another factor that makes Rafflesia such a rare occurence. In fact, only a small percentage of the flowers are going to bloom and they only last for few days.

Habitat Specialisation

Rafflesia is a parasitic plant and it only can successfully parasite some particular species. This makes its existence even more difficult because they not only need to have a specific habitat specialisation but a double one.

Sex Ratio Disproportion

The male plants of Rafflesia are more widespread than the females, this huge disproportion being also a disadvantage for the species’ dissemination, as there are limited chances for a male and a female to bloom and to be found close enough at the same time, so that the pollination can take place.

Habitat Destruction

By far, forest destruction is the most significant threat to the existence of the Rafflesia. The rainforest area in SE Asia is threatened as well, thus the natural habitat of the plant is also diminishing.