Flora of Indonesia
The flora of Indonesia consists of many unique varieties of tropical plants. Blessed with a tropical climate and around 18,000 islands, Indonesia is a nation with the second largest biodiversity in the world. The flora of Indonesia reflects an intermingling of Asian, Australian and the native species. This is due to the geography of Indonesia, located between two continents. The archipelago consists of a variety of regions from the tropical rain forests of the northern lowlands and the seasonal forests of the southern lowlands through the hill and mountain vegetation, to subalpine shrub vegetation. Having the second longest shoreline in the world, Indonesia also has many regions of swamps and coastal vegetation. Combined together, these all give rise to a huge vegetational biodiversity. There are about 28,000 species of flowering plants in Indonesia, consisting 2500 different kinds of orchids, 6000 traditional medicinal plants used as Jamu., 122 species of bamboo, over 350 species of rattan and 400 species of Dipterocarpus, including ebony, sandalwood and teakwood. Indonesia is also home to some unusual species such as carnivorous plants. One exceptional species is known as Rafflesia arnoldi, named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and Dr. Arnold, who discovered the flower in the depths of Bengkulu, southwest Sumatra. This parasitic plant has a large flower, does not produce leaves and grow on a certain liana on the rain forest floor. Another unusual plant is Amorphophallus titanum from Sumatra. Numerous species of insect trapping pitcher plants (Nepenthes spp.) can also be found in Borneo, Sumatra, and other islands of the Indonesian archipelago.
The mangosteen is an unassuming-looking fruit. To those who have never tried one, it seems a mystery: how do you get inside? The purple shell is firm and smooth with no gaps in which to insert a knife to pry it open, and even the leaves and stem seem unyielding.
It's actually quite easy with the right technique: put the fruit between the palms of your hands, press firmly on opposite sides and the mangosteen will split open to reveal off-white, unevenly sized segments. Mangosteen connoisseurs know to examine the 'flower' at the base of the fruit; the number of petals on the flower indicates the number of segments in the mangosteen. The more segments the better because the smaller segments are seedless, or have small, tender and edible seeds.
The mangosteen is considered the 'queen of fruit' while the durian is 'the king'. There could not be a more opposite pairing. While the durian is bold, brash and distinctive - in appearance, smell and taste - the mango- steen is soft, sweet, elusive and subtly seductive; it's extremely difficult to describe the taste and scent because it's unlike any other fruit.
Take care when opening the mangosteen because the purple shell stains cloth. The leaves sometimes harbour bugs, so rinse the fruit well before serving.
Mangosteen products include juice and canned fruit. Some brands of the commercial juice are quite good, although they can be difficult to find.
It's easy enough to make your own juice by pureeing mangosteen segments with some sugar syrup and fresh lemon juice, which balances the added sugar and also slows down the oxidation of the fruit, which darkens when exposed to air. The mixture can be frozen to make a sorbet.