Nepenthes rafflesiana is a heavy-hitting lowland species with broad variability and even broader size. Leaves reach one to two feet (0.3-0.6 m) in length, and thrive in humid greenhouses with hot days and warm nights. Hailing from Malaysia, Sumatra, Singapore, and Borneo (Brunei, Sabah, and Sarawak) at an elevation of 3,900 feet (1,200 m) and below, N. rafflesiana has several named forms that may vary in size and color, but are all united by their beauty. It is neighbors (and hybridizes) with other lowland Nepenthes like N. ablomarginata, N. ampullaria, N. bicalcarata, N. gracilis, and N. mirabilis.
Nepenthes rafflesiana was named in honor of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, a British explorer, colonial leader, and founder of Singapore. The plant has gone by many other names in the past, like N. sanderiana, N. sanderi, N. raflesea, N. nigro-purpurea, or N. hemsleyana.
Dr. William Jack discovered Nepenthes rafflesiana in 1819 writing about the plant and its discovery:
It is impossible to conceive anything more beautiful than the approach to Singapore, through the Archipelago of islands that lie at the extremity of the Straits of Malacca. Seas of glass wind among innumerable islets, clothed in all the luxuriance of tropical vegetation and basking in the full brilliance of a tropical sky… I have just arrived in time to explore the woods before they yield to the axe, and have made many interesting discoveries, particularly of two new and splendid species of pitcher-plant [Nepenthes rafflesiana and Nepenthes ampullaria], far surpassing any yet known in Europe. I have completed two perfect drawings of them with ample descriptions. Sir S. Raffles is anxious that we should give publicity to our researches in one way or other and has planned bringing out something at Bencoolen. He proposes sending home these pitcher-plants that such splendid things may appear under all the advantages of elegant execution, by way of attracting attention to the subject of Sumatran botany.