Indonesia's Extraordinary Biodiversity

Discover how Indonesia is home to three quarters of the world's tropical plant species

For hundreds of years, Indonesian people have conducted many experiments with various types of botanical wealth that is second to none in the world.

Relief in Trowulan Site, Prawoto Indarto, From the collection of: Indonesia Gastronomy Network
Relief in Trowulan Site, Prawoto Indarto, From the collection of: Indonesia Gastronomy Network
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The depiction of the abundance of biological diversity in Indonesia can be found in the reliefs of temples dating from the 14th century in East Java. In 1999, Balai Arkeologi Yogyakarta (Archeology Center) conducted a research on plant reliefs during the Majapahit era and found 16 types of plants on temple reliefs at Trowulan Museum, Kendalisodo Temple, Rimbi Temple, and Jawi Temple.

Indonesia Island Scenery by Stijn DijkstraIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Indonesia, a country with 17,000 large and small islands, has 30,000 different plant species from a total of 40,000 tropical plant species found on earth (Sukenti, 2002; Beers, 2001).    

Spices Farmers by AcarakiIndonesia Gastronomy Network

In recent years, three-quarters of the world's population use plants as the main source of traditional medicine. It is estimated that of 122 drugs used in western medicines obtained from 94 different plant species. From that amount, around 72 percent can be traced to ethnobotanical use (Fabricant and Farnworth, 2001 in Kardono, 2014).    

NatureIndonesia Gastronomy Network

In 2013, Indah Yuning Prapti, Secretary General of the National Working Group of Indonesian Herbal Medicine, mentioned the results of the Ministry of Health survey at the seminar of "Forest and Medicinal Plants for People's Welfare" at Bogor Agricultural University. 

Spices Farmers by AcarakiIndonesia Gastronomy Network

The survey targeted 20 percent of 1,168 ethnic groups in Indonesia, where more than 1,500 herbs were obtained from 24,927 species of local medicinal plants in Indonesia (Antara, 9/11/2013).

Turmeric seedlings by AcarakiIndonesia Gastronomy Network

While data from the Research on Medicinal Plants and Herbs (RISTOJA) presented findings of 32,014 ingredients from 47,466 types of medicinal plants in Indonesia during 2012-2017 (Ristoja, 2017).

GingerIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in Southeast Asia. It’s among the healthiest spices on the planet. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice. It’s a very common ingredient in multiple recipes around the world. 

CurcumaIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Curcuma (Curcuma xanthorriza)

Commonly known as “temulawak” or Javanese turmeric is a member of the ginger family (Zingeberaceae), which is a native Indonesian plant. The roots has high anti-oxidant quality and used as medicinal herbs for anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory quality.

GalangalIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Galangal (Alpinia galangal L.)

In ethnobotany, galangal has medicinal effects as it alleviates respiratory diseases and stomach problems. In commerce, galangals are commonly available in Asian markets as whole fresh rhizome, or in dried and sliced, or powdered form.

LempuyangIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Lempuyang (Zingiber zerumbet)

The leaves and leaf stalks, which are also fragrant, were used to enhance the flavor in different proteins. Traditionally, the aromatic ginger family were sliced, dried, and pounded to a powder. 

BangleIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Bangle (Zingiber purpureum Roxb.)

Bangle is visually similar to ginger but it has different composition and use. Bangle is widely used in Southeast Asia for fever, headaches and gastroesophageal reflux. 

TurmericIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Turmeric (Curcuma domestica)

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Turmeric is used in medicinal herbs, traditional food and also natural dye. 

NoniIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Noni (Morinda citrifolia L.)

Morinda citrifolia is a fruit-bearing tree in the coffee family, Rubiaceae. Its native range extends across Southeast Asia and Australasia. Noni  has been introduced as a supplement in various formats, such as capsules, skin care products and juices.

GalangalIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Galangal (Kaempferia galanga)

Commonly called 'kencur'  the rhizome is used as an herb in cooking in Indonesia, ('cekur' in Malaysia), and especially in Javanese and Balinese cuisines. Beras kencur, which combines dried K. galanga powder with rice flour, is a particularly popular jamu herbal drink.

BrotowaliIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Brotowali (Tinospora tuberculata L.)

This bitter tasting stem is widely used to support diabetic treatment. In Java, Brotowali is commonly called antawali or daun gadel or putrawali. In Bali it is commonly called antawali. 

TamarindIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.)

The tamarind tree produces brown, pod-like fruits that contain a sweet, tangy pulp, which is used in cuisines around the world. The pulp is also used in traditional medicine including in Jamu.

Javanese ChilliIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Javanese Chilli (Piper retrofractum L.)

The Javanese long pepper (Piper retrofractum Vahl), locally known as cabya. The plant is considered rare that cabya consumption until today it is only used in traditional herbal medication and in making jamu.

8 Types of Jamu by JamupediaIndonesia Gastronomy Network

It confirms that Indonesia is an extraordinary unique biological resource or biodiversity. Being largely endemic, it is feasible that Indonesia is called a mega biodiversity country (Wijaya, 2014).

Hence, it is our responsibility to protect this wealth of nature from the extinction and biopiracy as well.

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