Malaboo

Malaboo
Malaboo | National Museum Bicol (@nmbicol) via Photo Credit: Julie Barcelona (Mt. Labo, Camarines Norte)

Malaboo

In this week’s Bicol Biodiversity, we feature another Rafflesia species found in Bicol, the Rafflesia lagascae. Read further to discover what makes this flower unique.

Locally known as malaboo , R. lagascae is considered a small-diameter Rafflesia, its small flower similar to R. manillana and R. lobata. This species has elongated or stretched windows on the underside of the diaphragm and can be easily seen from the top view because of the relatively open diaphragm. The diaphragm is narrow, upright to slightly incurved, and broader. It has bristles on the rim of the annulus. One feature that distinguishes R. lagascae from other Rafflesia, is its warts are smaller and more densely set on the perigone lobes, with a few white specks scattered on the lobes.

R. lagascae is endemic to Luzon. Its population were documented growing in Quezon, Laguna, Cagayan, Bataan, Albay and Camarines Norte. In Bicol, R. lagascae are thriving in Mt. Masaraga and Mt. Labo. Unfortunately, it has been listed under Vulnerable conservation status by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Rafflesia is a parasitic plant; it does not have roots, stems, leaves, or chlorophyll. Instead, they attach to their host plant’s stem and root tissues, the Tetrastigma. It produces a distinct rotten meat smell during its blooming season, which attracts carrion flies, and its flower only lasts for six (6) to seven (7) days before starting to decay.

Rafflesia is rare and challenging to produce that takes 46 months to complete a life cycle (see the photo below). However, due to deforestation and ecotourism, habitat loss threatens the survival of Rafflesia species. Conservation and protection of its habitat could increase its population. By the way, there are a total of 13 Rafflesia species found in the Philippines, and you may check them here: bit.ly/3AagcFL.

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