Gunung Gading National Park
It was a pleasure to visit well-run tourist offices with helpful staff for a change! They sent us immediately to Gunung Gading National Park to see a giant Raffalesia flower. We were fortunate to see two of these in bloom. The Raffalesia is a parasitic plant that grows from a small nub on a particular kind of forest creeper into the world's largest flower. Over a period of nine months the bud swells, then turns pink, then unfolds into a “flower” with giants, rigid, pale-studded petals. Inside the center of the flower is a pincushion-like structure with conical spikes. The flower smells vaguely of rotting flesh, an odor that attracts small flies that disperse its spores. Several of these buzzed out as I approached my nose to have a smell. After five days, the flower turns black and rots away, leaving only the interior spiked “disc” behind on the forest floor.