Rafflesia cantleyi Solms-Laubach

Species named after M. Cantley, curator of the Singapore Botanic Gardens (1880-1886).

The features that distinguish Rafflesia cantleyi from R. hasseltii are the white warts at the base of the perigone lobes (petals). In R. cantleyi there are 7-9 of them. In R. hasseltii there are 4-5 large, coalesced warts. Moreover, R. hasseltii appears to be restricted to Sumatra. Rafflesia cantleyi is more widespread, being reported for the Malaysian states of Perak, Kedah, Perlis, Selangor, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Tioman Island.

One of the features of this species is its tendency to form flowers on aerial portions of the parasitized Tetrastigma host vines.  The following photographs were taken in the rainforest, Perak, Malaysia. Photos by W. K. Fletcher & D. M. Baylis, from Wildside Photography.

Rafflesia azlanii (Latiff & Wong 2003) shares a number of features with R. cantleyi. See the web page for that taxon and the original publication for more discussion of this topic. The taxon named R. sharifah-hapsahiae (Adam et al. 2013) represents a single population of plants whose morphological characters fall within or slightly extend the range of characters for R. cantleyi.  See this page for a more thorough discussion of this taxon.

Open flower.  Near Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia.  Photo by W. K. Fletcher & D. M. Baylis.

Close-up of the opening in the diaphragm.  Near Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia.  Photo by W. K. Fletcher & D. M. Baylis.

D. M. Baylis next to open flower.  Near Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia.  Photo by W. K. Fletcher.

W. K. Fletcher, next to flower (ca. 14 inches in diameter). Near Ipoh in northwestern penninsular Malaysia. Photo by D. M. Baylis.

Open flower. In rainforest near Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. Photo by W. K. Fletcher & D. M. Baylis.

Open flower. Belum forest, penninsular Malaysia. Photo by Yusof A. Aziz (sent by Reza Azmi).

The above two photographs, taken in Pulau Tioman (island off east coast of peninsular Malaysia), were presented in an article by Aziz Bidin, Rusea Go, Razali Jaman & Badrol Ahmad entitled "Two Notable Plants of the Jungle of Pulau Tioman" that appeared in Nature Malesiana 16 (1991) page 8. These flowers seem to show some morphological differences between the mainland forms (see above photos). For example, the diaphragm opening is smaller and more angular and the perigone lobes in the fully opened flower do not overlap significantly. It would be worthwhile to explore the genetic similarities and differences between these various populations.

Rafflesia cantleyi buds in box

The above photo was taken (1980s?) by Willem Meijer near Gopeng, Parak, Malaysia (south of Ipoh ca. 25 km).  It shows a box full of Rafflesia (probably R. cantleyi) buds that are sold in markets for various medicinal purposes.  This practice severely impacts local Rafflesia populations where reproduction is often limited.

Last updated: 11-Dec-18 / dln