Visit to Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden

Came home, fully refreshed and rejuvenated after a morning trip to Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden on Saturday, August 1.

Malaysia’s world-renowned ‘Forest of Knowledge’ (its English name) that is located in the University of Malaya campus, Kuala Lumpur. So aptly named, as its botanical concept is not a formal flower garden, but rather a tropical rainforest garden with over 1,600 species as living collections, spanning an area of 80 hectares. It even houses UM’s herbarium, our country’s largest university collection of 63,000 accessions. Do explore Rimba Ilmu website to be enthralled.

Frankly, until very recently, John and I didn’t even know its existence! Thanks to W. George Schmid and Sugumaran for introducing us to this magnificent tropical treasure of plant life in the heart of Kuala Lumpur city.

Hence, with joyous gratitude, we too would like to introduce to the world, Malaysia’s prestigious Rimba Ilmu Botanical Garden with a virtual tour of its many treasures therein. A photo gallery actually, of images captured during the conducted garden tour! Enjoy please!

1) In the vicinity of the main building and courtyard :
where it boasts of various tropical plants, such as Bougainvillea, Ixora and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, popular arbour vines like Red Passiflora coccinea and Thunbergia laurifolia, spectacular palms, and aquatic plants like water lilies, etc. in an ornamental pond at the courtyard.

Main entrance of Rimba Ilmu's building
Front entrance into Rimba Ilmu’s main building
Murraya paniculata (Mock Orange, Fence Lime, Orange Jessamine) with very scented flowers
Murraya paniculata (Orange Jessamine): native to Southeast Asia, China and Australia;
Passiflora coccinea (Red granadilla) at the courtyard
Passiflora coccinea (Red granadilla): native to S. America, a climber with striking red flowers on a 4.5 m tall pole
Latania loddigesii (Blue Latan Palm, Silver Latan Palm), at the courtyard
Latania loddigesii (Blue Latan Palm, Silver Latan Palm): ornamental tropical palm, native to Mauritius Island.
Cycas clivicola: this is a male plant which develops a cone
Cycas clivicola: this is a male plant, seen here which develops a relatively large cone. Native to southern Thailand and Peninsula Malaysia
Pandanus tectorius on the left and, on the right is Pandanus variegatus
Pandanus tectorius (Tahitian Screwpine, Hala), native to Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia and Australia. On the right is the variegated one, Pandanus variegatus (P. baptisii)

2) Garden tour into the Forest of Knowledge proper :
where more than 1,600 species are packed into the living collections. Included are rare plants and various kinds of medicinal herbs, ferns, gingers, palms, citruses and and trees, mostly indigenous Malaysian and Indonesian flora though plant species from elsewhere are included too.
Tropical fauna abounds therein and a clearwater stream flows within its grounds, inhabited with algae and teeming with small fishes, etc. Dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and birds were observed too. Metal plant ID tags are common features of the landscape to introduce the plants’ identity and provide brief profile details. There is an enclosed Fernery situated nearby…unfortunately it was locked during our visit.

Thysanolaena latifolia (Bamboo Grass, Buluh tebrau in Malay language)
Thysanolaena latifolia (Bamboo Grass): native to India, through Burma and S. China to the Malay Peninsula. Leaves used as wrappers for Chines glutonous rice dumplings, inflorescences made into soft broom-heads
Vatica yeechongii
Vatica yeechongii: endemic to Peninsula Malaysia. A very rare thin crooked tree along fast-flowing streams. First discovered in 2002
Gigantic clusters of Grammatophyllum speciosum (Tiger Orchid)
Grammatophyllum speciosum (Tiger Orchid, Sugar Cane Orchid, Queen of the Orchids, Giant Orchid): world’s largest orchid, native to New Guinea, Indonesia and Malaysia. On record, the largest single plant had a mass of 2 tons. More info at wikipedia and flowers at Garden Chronicles.
Jatropha podagrica
Jatropha podagrica – An ornamental, native to Central America. Pounded leaves used as poultice over sores and swellings; latex possible source of bio-fuel. Plant profile here.
Selaginella plana (Paku Merak in Malay language), a medicinal herb
Selaginella plana: native to Peninsular Malaysia. Medicinal herb used to treat stomach aches, rheumatism, coughs, asthma and in post-natal tonics
Polygonum minus (Kesum in Malay language), a medicinal herb
Polygonum minus: native to Asia, Australia and Europe. Leaf decoction used to relief indigestion and oil from leaves to treat dandruff. Popular condiment in local dishes
Cibotium barometz (Golden Chicken Fern, Scythian Lamb, Woolly Fern, Penewar Jambi or Bulu Pusi in Malay language)
Cibotium barometz (Golden Chicken Fern, Scythian Lamb, Woolly Fern): native to China and Peninsula Malaysia. A species of Tree Fern with fronds up to 3m long
Central foreground is Dypsis leptocheilos (Redneck Palm, Teddy Bear Palm)
Dypsis leptocheilos (Redneck Palm, Teddy Bear Palm): native to Madagascar. Leaf sheaths is red-coloured, crownshaft is a light rusty colour and trunk, a waxy white
Johannesteijsmannia magnifica, a rare forest understorey palm)
Johannesteijsmannia magnifica (‘Daun Payung’ in Malay language or Umbrella Leaf): native to Peninsula Malaysia. A rare and spectacular forest understorey palm
Johannesteijsmannia magnifica (endemic to Peninsula Malaysia, a rare forest understorey palm)
Just to feature how large and long the aerial roots of the rainforest trees can be, about 100 m or more. To clear a jungle, the loggers have first to chop off these tough and hardy roots clasping the forest trees
Oncosperma tigillarium (Nibung Palm) with tall clustered trunks covered with spines
Oncosperma tigillarium (Nibung Palm): native to Peninsula Thailand and Malaysia, an Sumatra, Borneo and Java. Rot resistant wood used as construction materials for kelong and fish traps
Syzygium gratum, with flaky bark
Syzygium gratum (Gelam Tikus in Malay language): native to Burma, Indo-China, Peninsula Malaysia. Tree trunk has fabulous-looking thin papery reddish-brown bark breaking into flaks
Palms: Oncosperma tigillarium and Bismarckia nobilis (the latter to the right)
To the right is Bismarckia nobilis: ornamental tropical palm, native to Madagascar. Trunk flattened for use in partition walling, leaves for thatch and baskets, pith for sago
A section of the tropical rainforest in Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden, the Forest of Knowledge
A section of the tropical rainforest. Observing closely, one can see Bird’s Nest Ferns (Asplenium nidus), thriving high above tree trunks
A section of the tropical rainforest in Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden, the Forest of Knowledge
A section of the tropical rainforest: when scrutinized, one can see the long hardy aerial roots criss-cross amongst the trees

3) Inside the Rare Plants and Orchids Conservatory :
indeed, plants and orchids therein were rarely seen. How wonderful that some wild orchids were blooming then and delighted to have captured them to share here.

Alocasia cuprea
Alocasia cuprea (Giant Caladium, Elephant Ear): endemic to Borneo, in lowland rainforests. Leaves undersides is maroon or dark purplish-red in color
Platycerium cf. coronarium (Staghorn Fern)
Platycerium cf. coronarium (Staghorn Fern, Tanduk Rusa in Malay language): native to Philippines, Indo-China, Malaysia. Plant info on Platycerium here.
Begonia rajah
Begonia rajah: native to Peninsula Malaysia, in lowland forests. Highly sought for its stunning variegated foliage in deep red and vivid green veins
Paphiopedilum barbatum (Slipper Orchid)
Paphiopedilum barbatum (Slipper Orchid): endemic to Peninsula Malaysia. Enjoy a photo gallery of wild orchids of Malaya here
Foliage of Paphiopedilum barbatum (Slipper Orchid)
Variegated foliage of Paphiopedilum barbatum (Slipper Orchid), as beautiful as its flower, seen on the left picture
Paphiopedilum glaucophyllum (Slipper Orchid)
Paphiopedilum glaucophyllum (Slipper Orchid): endemic to Java. Get to see more photos of Paph. species and hybrids here.
Paphiopedilum rothschildianum (Slipper Orchid)
Paphiopedilum rothschildianum (Slipper Orchid, King of the Paphs): endemic to Borneo
Plants inside the Rare Plants and Orchids Conservatory, Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden, Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden in KL
Rare plants and orchids inside the conservatory of Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden
Plants inside the Rare Plants and Orchids Conservatory, Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden, Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden in KL
Another section of the rare plants and orchids inside the conservatory

4) Inside the ‘Rain Forests and Our Environment’ Exhibition Hall :
provides excellent material and information about the Malaysian rainforest, its biodiversity and usefulness in environmental conservation. Too bad, the exhibition was less than 20 minutes rushed sighting for us, just insufficient time to enjoy the richness available.

Product exhibits
Product exhibits
Various kinds of timber/wood
Samples of various kinds of timber/wood, showcasing the differing colours, textures and weight
Exhibits of mushrooms in Malaysia
Exhibits of mushrooms in Malaysia
Posters/text panels on Rafflesia
Posters/text panels on Rafflesia
Posters/text panels on Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia's first World Heritage Site
Posters/text panels on Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site
Poster on preserving biodiversity
Poster on preserving biodiversity

We truly enjoyed the conducted garden tour by Ms. Angela (thank you!).

Our garden visit to Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden was really an eye-opener, most enlightening and educative, even though there weren’t enough amazing flowers to enthral us as in a formal floral botanic garden. After all, it is THE FOREST OF KNOWLEDGE and it sure was true to its name!

Metal plant ID tag for herbal plant, Dianella ensifoliaMost plants therein have their identity clearly tagged, an example as seen on the left picture. However, since we lagged far behind the other tour participants, capturing photos and enjoying the beauty that abounds, some name tags were ignored. Haha…the nature lovers!

Thus, had to email to Mr. Sugumaran of Rimba Ilmu, Univerisity of Malaya, for help in some of the plants’ ID and he responded so graciously and kindly.

Our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Mr. Sugumaran. What a blessing he had been to us! :D

Rimba Ilmu’s Address:
The Coordinator
Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden
Institute of Biological Sciences
University of Malaya
50603 Kuala Lumpur

(Tel: 603-79674686, 603-79674690)

Last edit: June 2, 2016

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2 Responses to “Visit to Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden”

  1. james Says:

    hi Jacq.
    You mentioned about creating a link here concerning the Giant Orchid. Im sorry Im not sure how to do this.
    Do advice me on this matter on what I should do & what is required of me to do so.
    If nothing is required of me and that you are asking permission, you are graciously welcome to link this Giant Orchid post.
    Glad that you enjoyed seeing those blooms. I would considered it rare as I had seen those plants many times without a flower.

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    James, I just wanted you to know my intention. I’ve already linked to your post at the above item 2) Garden tour, in the description just below the third thumbnail showing gigantic clumps of Tiger Orchid. I usually do this if I find interesting related articles elsewhere and yours was one such that showed Tiger Orchid’s rare blooming beauty.
    Once again, thanks so much for sharing.. :)

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