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The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu

Listed under Gardens in Sabah, Malaysia.

  • Photo of The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu
  • Photo of The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu
  • Photo of The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu
  • Photo of The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu
  • Photo of The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu
  • Photo of The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu
  • Photo of The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu
  • Photo of The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu
Photo of The Orchids of Mt. Kinabalu
Photo by flickr user Percita
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The air in the orchid garden seems heavier than that outside (the elevation is quite high so the air feels quite clear on the mountain - maybe it‘s the pollen?.) and the orchids have a gleam to them making them appear almost fake. There are orchids in this garden that people who design artificial flowers would be surprised by, the varied colours and even more the textures mean it takes ages to take it all in. Some of the flowers are tiny and delicate with minute stems, while some of the blooms are thick and juicy.

There are more than 650 different species of orchid in Mount Kinabalu National Park, including quite a few which are very rare or endemic to the park and you’ll be surprised by the way some of them grow (some appear upside down, or else hang precariously from trees.) and the garden houses more varieties than most people will see in a lifetime.

The huge pitcher plants are also fantastic to see up close and the mingled competing scents attract all sorts of insects and small birds, though they wont bother you much, they’re much more interested in what’s at the centre of the pitcher plant.

The red spotted five petalled rafflesias are more difficult to see. They don’t grow off a rooted plant, but off parasitic vines the ‘bulbs’ of which appear unexpectedly. Many ‘blubs’ never bloom, so it’s a pretty special event to see one (we were taken to an area known for them where our guides had heard a bloom was in flower.). Locals called it a corpse flower for a good reason, it smells strongly of rotting flesh (which made me wonder why people found them so difficult to find.). The real attraction is their impressive size, the one we saw was easily 70 cm in diameter.

Written by  Kat Mackintosh.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Mt. Kinabalu National Park

People mostly think of the rainforests and montane forests of Borneo in terms of orang utans, orchids, pitcher plants and the epic and sickly sweet smelling Rafflesias, the world's largest flower, but they are also some of the earth's oldest and home to a hugely diverse range of plant and animal life.

Humid corridors between towering trees teem with exotic birds, animals and insects and it can almost be an intoxicating overwhelming experience.

The Mount Kinabalu National Park lies like a dense foggy blanket on and around the slopes of the massif, south east Asia's highest, and with it's varied elevations, from the montane and rainforests around the base to the alpine meadows near the summit it's an excellent place to see the diverse range of Borneo's endemic plants and animals. The most unique of these include several carnivorous plants, the Kinabalu Giant Red Leech and the Kinabalu Giant Earthworm.

Near the park headquarters is an orchid garden and the Poring Hot Springs., which was established by Japanese soldiers during the war.

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