If we talk about rainforest, in our mind, the rainforest is a tropical forest area that covers around the equator line of the earth. The temperature is warm and damp, consistently heavy rainfall, and only have two seasons (dry season and rain season). The rainforest consist of a dense forest area that rich of biodiversity. Rainforest is a home of megadiversity on this earth. We can find rainforest easily by open our globe or Google Earth and try to find the equator line. Places which crossed by equator line and other place that not far from it are tropic area and of course there are tropical forests in there.
Each tropical countries has their own tropical forest. But the wide and density of the tropical forest is not same in each countries. Today, there are three largest tropical zone in three countries that has large tropical forest in this world. There are Federative Republic of Brazil in South America with the Amazon basin, Democratic Republic of The Congo in Central Africa with the Congo basin, and Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia in Southeast Asia with the Indonesian Archipelago. These three tropical countries has the richest biodiversity in this world.
Rainforests areas in Brazil, Congo DR, and Indonesia
From those three rainforests areas, Amazon basin is the most popular. Everybody knows about rainforest of Amazon and knows about the flora and fauna in there. But now, i wanna talk and share about amazing bizzare and strange flora of the rainforest. Not in Amazon, because i wanna share you another rainforest area that hidden, and rarely discovered in this world, in The Indonesian Archipelago... Amazon is not alone...
In this article, i would like to make a list of 14 bizzare, unique, strange, exotic, wonderful, and rare tropical plants from my country, Indonesia.
1. Musa ingens, The Largest and Tallest Banana On Earth
The Musa ingens trunk, The giant banana
I think all of you are know about this fruit. Yup, banana is one of the most popular tropical fruit. There are lot of banana species in this world but do you have a curious think to know what's and where the largest banana? And what's the banana species that has the tallest tree? Now, you find the answer. The largest and tallest banana species is Musa ingens. This giant banana species is endemic to the tropical jungle of Irian Jaya (Indonesian Papua).
This giant banana is Real, Not photoshop :-)
This monstrous banana has 15 metres tall, the diameter of the trunk is up to 2 metres, with 5 metres leaf length and the leaf width is 1 metres. The habitat of this species is the rainforest of Irian Jaya highlands in Indonesia from 1.350 to 1.800 metres above the sea level.
A bunch of bananas weight from this species is 60 Kg. The ripe Musa ingens bananas length up to 18 Cm and the diameter of the fruit is 3 to 4 Cm. Unfortunately, we can't eat this giant banana like another banana. I don't know why... If i already know the answer, i would update this article.
Indonesian man with a bunch of Musa ingens banana
Musa ingens is a rare banana species. Maybe because this species is difficult to cultivated. The growth of the seed can take a very long time. It could take one year for the growth of the seed. The growth is also irregular. But now, the scientist have trying the other easier ways to cultivate and save this species.
Meet the giant banana in Indonesia
2. Nepenthes jamban, The Toilet Plant
Nepenthes jamban, endemic to North Sumatra, Indonesia
Last year, when i share the picture of this species on social media, many people thought that this plant is Fake. They thought this plant is a photoshop, or just a common pitcher plant. They also accused me that i was make a joke by cutting the picher of the plant and they also accused me that changed the name for a hoax. ..<LOL>.. I'm very sad when they accused me like that. This species is 100% Real! Maybe in their mind, the Nepenthes plant is only one species. Whereas the fact is there are 129 species of Nepenthes plant on this earth and Indonesia is one of the country which has the most Nepenthes plant species in this world with 64 species live in Indonesia. Another new species also has been discovered.
N.jamban, the hanging live toilet from Indonesian jungle of Sumatra :D
This species is endemic to Sumatra, in Indonesia. The pitcher of this species has an unique shape. It looks like a Toilet. That's why it named Nepenthes jamban by Hernawati and Akhriadi, two Indonesian researchers (Jamban = Toilet in Indonesian). This species discovered in Sumatra, April 2005. Like another pitcher plants, Nepenthes jamban also use its pitcher to trap and consume any small animals like insects, frogs, or little lizard.
Sadly, this rare species is threatened by hunting for this species
Nepenthes jamban is a rare species. Its threatened by hunting for this species. Because many carnivore plant collectors around the world wanted to buy and collect this species..
I hope the government would make some rules to protect and save this unique plant or make a cultivation so the collectors do not have to exploitation this species from their habitat anymore.
The differences between N.jamban and another Nepenthes species
Fun Facts : In Indonesia, Nepenthes plants called Kantong Semar (Semar's Pocket). Semar is one of the traditional Wayang character in Indonesian Wayang Art.
3. Daun Payung, The Giant Leaf From Indonesian Rainforest
A hut made from Daun Payung leaves
The leaves are very large. The length of the leaf is up to 6 metres with 1 metres width. The name of this plant was given by Johannes Elias Teijsmann, the Dutch botanist, biologist, and plant collector who discovered this species in the jungle of Sumatra, Indonesia. The dried leaves of this plant have a strong resistance for housetop and wall. But this plant is just live in a shady spot on the floor of rainforest. Deforestation threatened this species because they lost the big trees which protect them from sunlight.
4. Titan Arum, Rare Titanic Flower From The Jungle of Sumatra, Indonesia
The flower of Titan Arum can grow up to 3 metres in height
Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is the tallest flower, and the largest unbranched inflorescence in this world. The height of the flower is up to 3 metres, and acknowledged by Guinnes World Record. This plant was first scientifically described in 1878 by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari in the rainforest of Sumatra, Indonesia. Endemic to Sumatra, this rare flower produce stinky odor like rotting meat to attract flies and beetles as pollinators. Due to its odor, Indonesians call this flower as Bunga Bangkai (Corpse Flower). This plant is one of the most valuable biodiversity treasure of Sumatra beside Rafflesia arnoldii and many botanical garden around the world wants to collect it. This rare titanic flower is protected by Indonesian government law. This flower sometimes called as "Suweg Raksasa" (Giant Suweg) by Indonesians. But Titan Arum and "Bunga Bangkai" is more popular.
Amorphophallus titanum in its habitat in Indonesia
The Titan Arum as a collection of Wilhelma Botanical Garden, Germany
5. Mymercodia & Hydnophytum, The Ant House Plant
The "Sarang Semut" plant and its labyrinth trunk
The Myrmecodia and Hydnophytum plant as know as "Sarang Semut" (Ant Nest/Ant House) in Indonesia, are unique tropical plants native to Indonesia that make commensalism symbiosis as epiphytes with their host tree, and mutualism symbiosis with ants. These plant species have big hollow trunk and have labyrinth in it. The labyrinth is provided by the plants to attrach ants to make house for them. They also produce glucose for the ants.
Ants in the Myrmecodia's labyrinth
Myrmecodia's & Hydnophytum's Labyrinth
In Indonesia, these strange plant lives both in lowlands and highlands. Indonesia is a country that has the most of these species on the world. These epiphytes grow at the trunk and branch of their host tree. And the mutualism symbiosis between ants, myrmecodia, and hydnophytum is, those plants serve cozy house and glucose for ants, the feces of ants is an important nutrition for myrmecodia and hydnophytum and then the plants get a protection from the ants, to protect the plants from any troublemakers that threatened the plants.
Sarang Semut plant and its host tree
This plant could be a nightmare for Trypophobia people XD Lol
These plants are very popular in Indonesia as herbal medicine. Hydnophytum formicarum, Myrmecodia tuberosa, and Myrmecodia pendens are the most favorite for medicine. Their labyrinth trunk contains flavonoid, tanin, antioxidant, calcium, zync, sodium, potassium, iron, phosphor, magnesium, and ect. The trunk is good for cancer, asthma, tuberculosis, rheumatism, cataract, diarrhea, migraine, diabetes, hemorrhoids, periodontitis, and hemostatic. Now, these plants are also cultivated for decoration plant.
Dried "Sarang Semut" for herbal medicine in Indonesia
Also beautiful and exotic as decoration plant
Sarang Semut cultivation for decoration plant in Indonesia
6. Rafflesia arnoldii, Largest Flower on Earth, The King of Flowers
Indonesian man with the Rafflesia arnoldii flower
Why i call this flower as "The King of Flowers"??? Yes, because this flower is very big! The Rafflesia arnoldii is the Largest flower on earth. Its a rare obligate parasite plant endemic to the rainforest of Sumatra, Indonesia (and possibly in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo). Another Rafflesia species beside R.arnoldii also live in another islands of Indonesia but this species, Rafflesia arnoldii, is the largest. This plant doesn't has leaves. So they can't do photosynthesis. This plant also doesnt't have roots and trunk. The only plant characteristic in this plant is a plant tissue that grow in their host tree. This parasitic plant absorb any organic and anorganic elements from their host tree, Tetrastigma, a liana plant species. The diameter flower of this plant can reach 1 metre and the weight is 11 kilograms.
Rafflesia arnoldii in Indonesian rainforest
The Rafflesia arnoldii was first found in 1818 by British botanist, Dr. Joseph Arnold when he explore the rainforest of Sumatra, lead by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the lieutenant governor in the Indonesian island of Java when Java colonized by United Kingdom (1811-1816). This flower also called as "Padma Raksasa" (Giant Padma) by Indonesians.
Indonesian kids with Rafflesia arnoldii
Like Titan Arum, the Padma Raksasa flower also produce stinky odor like a rotting meat to attract flies for pollinators. Same like Titan Arum, Indonesians also call this flower as Bunga Bangkai, (the corpse flower). This rare flower is very threatened to be extinct. The reproduction of this plant also difficult. The age of this flower is only 5 to 7 days and then withered and dead. If the host plant dead, this plant is also dead. This biodiversity treasure of Sumatra, protected by Indonesian law. In Bengkulu province, there's also an ecotourism destination for tourists who wants to see this flower alive in its habitat. This flower is also the one of Three Official National Flower of Indonesia.
Flies as pollinators of Rafflesia and also the Titan Arum above
Indonesian girl with Rafflesia flower
Indonesian botanist researching this plant
Bengkulu province has the famous Ecotourism destination in Indonesia for tourists who wants to see this plant alive in its habitat.
FUN FACTS : Do you remember with these Pokemon species below? Yeah, they are Gloom & Vileplume. These Pokemon species are inspired by the Rafflesia arnoldii. :-)
7. Buah Merah, The Magic Fruit From Indonesia
Buah Merah (Red Fruit in English) is a Pandanus plant that endemic to Irian Jaya (Indonesian Papua). This plant also called as Kuansu by native people of Wamena in Irian. Not like the other Pandan family, this plant can grow up to 16 Metre. The fruit has 55 Cm length, 10 - 15 Cm diameter, and weight 2 - 3 Kg. The fruit has red maroon colour. But some species also have brown and yellow-brown colours. Native people in Indonesian Papua, use this fruit as food, and also for herbal medicine.
Indonesian man with Buah Merah
Researcher from Cendrawasih University, in Jayapura, Indonesia, Drs I Made Budi M.S. found that many native people who live in the highlands and mountains in Irian Jaya have muscular body, high stamina, strong from cold air, and rarely have degenerative disease like Hypertension, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer, and ect. From his research, Buah Merah contains : oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, decanoic, Omega 3, Omega 9, Beta Karoten (700 ppm), Karoten (12.000 ppm), Tokoferol (11.000 ppm) and ect. That's why Buah Merah (Pandanus conoideus) is the Magic Fruit for Herbal Medicine and Health Supplement.
Buah Merah in the Market
The Buah Merah extract
8. Anggrek Bulan (Moon Orchid) An Orhid With Leopard Face
Do you see a leopard face in it? ^_^
Moon Orchid, or Anggrek Bulan in Indonesian, is one of the three national flower of The Republic of Indonesia (Moon Orchid, Jasmine, and Rafflesia arnoldii). Known as Phalaenopsis amabilis, this beautiful epiphyte white orchid has an unique form like a Leopard in it. This monopodial plant live in many islands in Indonesia including the large islands like Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Irian. The diameter of the flower can reach 10 Cm.
9. Rambutan, The Hairy Ball
Rambutan, Nephelium lappaceum, is the tropical fruit species native to Indonesia. Rambutan in Indonesian word, means Hairy in English (Rambut = Hair). This fruit is Sapindaceae family and grow naturaly in Indonesian archipelago and also introduced to many part of the world. Around 13th - 15th century, many Arab traders introduced this Indonesian fruit to Zanzibar and East Africa. The Dutch government when colonized Indonesia, also introduced this fruit to South America, Suriname, and then another part of South America and Central America like Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Honduras, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, and ect. This fruit also introduced to another country in Southeast Asia.
Rambutan is one of the most popular fruit in Indonesia, and another part of Southeast Asia where this plant were introduced due to its sweetness and the price is cheap, not too expensive, less pest, and the Rambutan tree always bear much fruits. December to March in Indonesia, is known as Musim Rambutan (Rambutan Season). Indonesia is the one of the largest Rambutan producer in this world. The Rambutan skin has hairy exocarp skin. The endocarp part, the white part like jelly of this fruit is the part of Rambutan that can consumed. The taste is sweet-sour to very sweet. This fruit is also the most favourite fruit for ants. There are many varieties of Rambutan in Indonesia such as : Rambutan Rapiah, Rambutan Bahrang, Rambutan Binjai, Rambutan Nona, Rambutan Sibatuk, Rambutan Antalagi, Rambutan Sibongkok, Rambutan Garuda, Rambutan Tangkue, Rambutan Narmada, Rambutan Sinyonya, and ect. The Rambutan Rapiah and The Rambutan Binjai are the most popular.
Rapiah, the caracteristic is the fruit are more rounded and short hair
Rambutan Binjai, from North Sumatra province
Rambutan Harvest when Rambutan Season in Indonesia
The Woodpeckers also love Rambutan :-)
10. Kepel, or Burahol, The Most Favourite Fruit by Ancient Indonesian Princess
Burahol or Kepel, native to Indonesia
Stelechocarpus burahol a.k.a Burahol or Kepel, is tropical plant native to Indonesia. This edible fruit from this tree, is the most favourite fruit by any Ancient Indonesian Princess in Indonesian Empires Age. This plant is the official flora of Special Region of Yogyakarta province in central part of Java, Indonesia. Burahol fruit has Adiluhung philosophy. The Burahol, or Kepel, used by Indonesian Princess as their signature cosmetics. So not only Cleopatra who has her own signature cosmetics but also any Indonesian Princess! They use Burahol for their perfume, deodorant, and another cosmetics. Eat this fruit also make body secretion smell like perfume scent. The fruits grow at the trunk of the tree like Jabuticaba in Brazil but of course both of them are different species. This plant is very rare in Indonesia. Because many people, especially Javanese ethnic, afraid to cultivate this plant because many people think Kepel should only be planted in the yard of the royal palace. And they afraid they could get curse. Another reason why people do not want to cultivate Burahol, even though the fruit taste is sweet, but full of seeds. Now, many people want to cultivate this plant to get the health benefit from the fruit and save this species.
Many ancient Indonesian Princess use this fruit as their signature cosmetics
Indonesian woman with Kepel
11. Salak, The Snake Fruit
Due to its scaly skin, Salak (Salacca zalacca) also known as Snakefruit. This plant is the family of palm tree Arecaceae native to Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra and introduced to another tropical region of Southeast Asia. Same like Rambutan, Salak is one of the most popular fruit in Indonesia and another part of Southeast Asia where this fruit were introduced. The taste of this fruit has unique sweet and a little sour. There are three popular cultivars of Salak in Indonesia such as Salak Pondoh, Salak Bali, and Salak Gula. The Salak Gula has the sweetest taste than the others (Gula means Sugar). While Salak Pondoh has unique aroma Salak pondoh has three another variations, namely pondoh super, pondoh hitam (black pondoh), and pondoh gading (ivory / yellowish-skinned pondoh). And Salak Bali has starchy mouth feel and a flavour reminiscent of dilute pineapple and lemon juice.
Salak with its tree in Indonesia
12. Nepenthes bicalcarata, The Fanged Pitcher Plant
Nepenthes bicalcarata, another most unique pitcher plant endemic to Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. This rare species known as "Kantong Semar Bertaring" in Indonesian. This species also has mutualism symbiosis with Camponotus schmitzi, a species of carpenter ant endemic to Kalimantan.
The young pitcher of Nephentes bicalcarata
Not like another pitcher plant, Nepenthes bicalcarata has some weakness like the edge of the pitcher is not slippery enough and weak corrosive liquid to digest its prey. The young pitcher also threatened by beetles. That's why the fanged pitcher plant make a mutualism symbiosis by making house for the ants and produce nectar for ants. The ants keep the edge of the pitcher always clean so its slippery enough to trap some insects. They also attack any insects that wants to save their self from the trap, the ants attack and push the insects to fall again to the trap. The ants also protect the young pitcher from beetles. The feces from ants also as nutrition for the fanged pitcher plant.
13. Corybas, The Indonesian Mini Orchid
Not only Sony Xperia that has Mini variants, but also, the Orchid plants. Corybas, one of the cutest orchid in this world native to Indonesia is the rare species of Mini orchid. This plant is not looks like another orchid and only just have single leaf. Maybe this is the smallest orchid in this world. This Indonesian Mini Orchid live in the rainforest of some Indonesian Islands like Sumatra, Java, and Kalimantan. This rare orchid is protected by Indonesian Law.
14. Durian, Spiky, But Has Amazing Taste. The King Of The Fruit!
Aaaandd this is The Most Popular Fruit in Indonesia, and also around Southeast Asia. Everybody in Southeast Asia knows about this fruit. Indonesia is the country where This King of Fruit comes from. Durio zibethinus, is as big as coconut, but some Durian species has larger fruit. Covered by thorn skin, the ripe Durian has "Beautiful" odour and thats the Signature of this fruit. Each species has their own taste characteristics beside its soft and sweet flavour. The British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace describe its flesh as rich of custard highly flavoured with almonds. The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness. Same like Rambutan, Durian also has their own season (Musim Durian). The local Durians in Indonesia ripe before the new year. Another durian cultivar from Thailand, the Durian "Monthong" can produce ripe durian fruit throughout the year. But, the taste is not too special like Local Durians in Indonesia. Thats why, altough we must wait until the end of year, the taste of the Indonesian Durians never deceive their fans in Indonesia. A long time waitning is better than the instant one. Just enjoy the process.
As the country where This King of Fruit comes from, There are so many Indonesian Local Durians cultivars and varieties in Indonesia such as
- Durian Asoe Kaya and Pha Gajah from Aceh province
- Gantal Mas and Bakul from South Sumatra and North Sumatra Province
- Putar Alam and Dahlan from Lampung province
- Durian Takada from West Sumatra province
- Namlung Petaling from Bangka Island
- Durian Selat from Jambi province
- Bentara from Bengkulu province
- Sijantung Kampar, Ome Kampar, and Tambang from Riau province.
- In Central Java province, there are Petruk, Sunan, Simemang, Laukra, Teji Durians
- While in East Java province there are Sukun, Ripto, Kelud, Gapu, Bido Wonosalam, Tawing Durians.
- There also Bestala Durian in Bali Island
- Menoreh Kuning and Menoreh Jambon Durians in Yogyakarta
- In my hometown, Bogor, there is Durian Mas and Durian Matahari
- And Jakarta has Durian Sitakong, Otong, and Kani
- Riau islands also have Durian Tembaga
- In South Sulawesi Province there are durian Sariwigading, Lalong, dan Tamalatea
- In Maluku Province (Molucca) there are durian Soya, Kumara, Sawai.
- In West Nusa Tenggara province ada Sipayuk, Tong Medaye, Kepala Gajah, Sedapir, Linggar, Sipakem.
- In Central Sulawesi province there are Durian Tampilan and Durian Raja.
- In Indonesian Borneo, Kalimantan, There are Sidodol, Sihijau, Sijapang Durians from South Kalimanan Province
- From West Kalimantan There are Mansau, Aspar, Raja Mabah, Sawah Mas, Kalapet, Rinbut, Lokad Durians
- From East Kalimantan there are Ligit, Mawar, Kayan, Salisun, Batuah, Kutai, Lai Mahakam
- In Central Kalimantan province there are Gelapir, and Gantar Bumi durians
- In Irian Jaya, there are Durian Pelangi ==> (This is the best quality Durian from Indonesia because has beautiful characteristics and best taste. Thailand and Malaysia, both of those country targeting this Durian Pelangi to cultivate in their country. According to me, Indonesia must move faster to save this best durian variety by increasing the production from this durian and export this valuable durian around the world before another country reach it) #Sorry... i write this because the competition of Durian producers in Southeast Asia is very fierce and rivalry :-) Durian is the most valuable fruit in Southeast Asia and always as The King of Fruit in all of Southeast Asian countries...
Durian Pelangi, The Best Indonesian Durian variety (Pelangi means Rainbow in English)