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.
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
bellow the main threats list:
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.
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
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
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.