The rich flora of Indonesia includes many unique varieties of tropical plant life in various forms. Rafflesia arnoldi, which is found only in certain parts of Sumatra, is the largest flower in the world. This parasitic plant grows on certain lianas but does not produce leaves. From the same area in Sumatra comes another giant, Amorphophallus tatinum, the largest inflorescence of its kind.

The insect trapping pitcher plant (Nepenthea spp) is represented by different species in many areas of western Indonesia.

The myriad of orchids is rich in species, varying in size from the largest of all orchids, the tiger orchid or Grammatophyllum Speciosum, to the tiny and leafless species of Taeniophyllum which is edible and taken by the local people as a medicine and is also used in handicrafts. The forest soil is rich in humus which enables the luxuriant growth of a multitude of fungi, including the horse hair blight, the luminescent species, the sooty mold and the black mildew.

lndonesia’s flora also abounds in timber species. The dipterocarp family is renowned for its timber (meranti), resin, vegetable oil and tengkawang or illipe nuts. Ramin, a good-quality timber for furniture production, is produced by the Gonystylus tree. Sandalwood, ebony, ulin and Palembang timber are other valuable forest products. Teakwood is a product of man-made forestins Java.

Because the flora is so rich many people in Indonesia have made a good living of this natural resource. About 6,000 species of plants are known to be used directly or indirectly by the people. A striking example in this modern time is the use of plants in the production of traditional herbal medicine or “Jamu”. Flowers are indispensable in ceremonial, customary and traditional rites.

To care for animals and plants in the country, the fifth of November has been designated as the national Flora and Fauna Day. To foster the society’s love for its fauna and flora, President Soeharto has designated the Komodo reptile (Varanus Komodoensis) as Indonesia’s National animal, the red fresh-water Liluk/arwana (Scieropage formosus) as the Fascinating animal and the flying Elang Jawa (Javan Hawk Eagle, Spizaetus bartels!) as the Rare (endangered) species. These decisions complement the previous designation of Indonesia’s national flowers.

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