Rafflesia cantleyi Solms-Laubach

Synonyms: Rafflesia azlanii Latiff & M.Wong, R. sharifah-hapsahiae J.H. Adam, R. Mohamed, M. A. Aizat-Juhari & K.L.Wan

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. hasseltiithere are 4-5 large warts. Apparently, the two species form hybrids in peninsular Malaysia (Meijer 1997), hence distinguishing the two species is difficult.  In this author's opinion, the taxon named Rafflesia azlanii Latiff & M.Wong is a hybrid between R. cantleyi and R. hasseltii (see photos below).  It shows intermediate characters, particularly in features involving the perigone lobe warts.  The study conducted by Bendiksby et al. (2010) showed that these two species are essentially identical using molecular markers.  Moreover, the taxon named R. sharifah-hapsahiae (Adam et al. 2013) represents a single population of plants whose morphological characters fall within or slighly extend the range of characters for R. cantleyi.  See this page for a more thorough discussion of this taxon.

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.

Literature Cited

Adam, J. H., R. Mohamed , M. A. Aizat-Juhari & K.L.Wan. 2013. Rafflesia sharifah-hapsahiae (Rafflesiaceae), a new species from peninsular Malaysia. Turkish Journal of Botany 37: 1-7.

Bendiksby M, Schumacher T, Gussarova G, Jamili N, Mat-Salleh K, Nery S, Madulid D, Smith SA, Barkman T. 2010. Elucidating the evolutionary history of the Southeast Asian, holoparasitic, giant-flowered Rafflesiaceae: Pliocene vicariance, morphological convergence and character displacement. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57: 620-633.

Meijer W. 1997. Rafflesiaceae. Pages 1-42 in Kalkman C, Kirkup DW, Nooteboom HP, Stevens PF, de Wilde WJJO, eds. Flora Malesiana, vol. 13. Leiden: Rijksherbarium.

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.

Rafflesia "azlanii"

The flowers, named as R. azlanii, show features intermediate between R. cantleyi and R. hasseltii and are here interpreted as interspecific hybrids.

Rafflesia "azlanii"


SIUC / College of Science / Parasitic Plant Connection / Rafflesiaceae
URL: http://www.parasiticplants.siu.edu/Rafflesiaceae/Raff.cant.page.html
Last updated: 08-Oct-13 / dln