Rare Titan to flower in Ubud’s Botanic Garden

TITAN ARUM The new BOTANIC GARDEN UBUD proudly announces it’s success in growing several species of Titans - in Indonesian, "bunga bangkai" – (bunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver) - or in scientific terms Amorphophallus titanium. One Titan Arum - from Sumatra - developed it’s big bloom which is to flowering only some days. Two others are close to inflorescene within days.

The Titan is considered as the biggest unbranched flower plant on the planet with flowers becoming as high as 2,70 m. Our flowers though are much smaller so far.

The "fragrance" of the inflorescence resembles rotting meat, attracting carrion-eating beetles and Flesh Flies (family Sarcophagidae) that pollinate it.

The titan arum only grows in the wild in the equatorial rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. It was first discovered there in 1878 by Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari. The plant flowers only infrequently in the wild and even more rarely when cultivated. It first flowered in cultivation at the Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew in London, in 1889, with around 60 cultivated blossoms since then. The first documented flowerings in the U.S. were at New York Botanical Garden in 1937 and 1939. The number of cultivated plants has increased in recent years, and it is not uncommon for there to be five or more flowering events in gardens around the world in a single year.

  Back to top

Bali Botanic Garden

( Hello Bali - September 2006 - By Jill Gocher )


What to do for a day in Ubud? After a mandatory visit to the market, checking out the shops tor1 new wares, hunting for handicrafts and treasures in the Tegallallang Road what next? A huge lunch of babi guling or an elegant repast in one of Ubud's fabulous restaurants comes to mind. Then, as the midday sun starts to sink a little lower and that slow afternoon languor sets in, maybe it is time to visit the newly opened Botanical Gardens. This is not a left over from a colonial past when gardens were use primarily for research and rubber, but a brand new brainchild born of a dream. A place to chill while enjoying an abundant nature.

The Gardens can  be found  just outside town.  Watch out for the  BCA Bank on me main road, find the banner, and   turn up the road.  Drive for a kilometer or two until, on the right hand roadside, you will find a break in the vista of rice fields and villas and the impressive entrance to the brand new Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were started in 2005 by German Stephan Reisner and business woman Faizah, They discovered the attractive piece of land - empty, because the local villagers believed it was haunted by spirits.

TITAN ARUMWork started, valleys were carved and water was "borrowed" from the locol subak irrigation system to run through the man made stream. Original rainforest covers part of the land while the northern end has meandering paths that lead through a shady garden of palms and ferns.

A collection of over 200 Nepenthes or pitcher plants from Borneo, Papua and Sumatra have recently been added. These carnivorous plants lure insects into their cups drunk, they foil into a pool of digestive enzymes and dissolve, their nutrients then feeding the plants. Wow!

The beautiful meditation court, loosely reminiscent of the holy temples of Gunung Kawi is a place of tranquillity. Carved stone Buddha statues gaze benignly into space, watching over the stone paved courtyard and the spirits con rest under the banyan tree peace.

Birds hove already discovered the gardens. Kingfishers hove been spotted resting in quiet parts of the small lake. Egrets hove dropped in from Petulu and quails can be seen hiding in the tall stands of alang-alang above. There is a plan to bring in some peacocks at o little later date. A natural amphitheatre and fountain makes a great venue for weddings and special events. Citronella plants help keep mosquitoes at bay. September will see a simple warung open below in the gardens, in one of the three century old authentic teak joglos from o remote port of East Java. Guests will soon be able to enjoy a bowl of noodles, a plate of pasta and maybe even a cold beer in the gardens. Eventually there is to be o fine dining restaurant in the attractive space near the entrance and the owners are looking for a suitable restaurant company to come set it up and provide fabulous food. Tour groups have already expressed interest and everything is standing by, ready for the right tender. Of course a picnic lunch could also be an attractive option!

Another good idea - why not visit in the cool of the morning when everything is fresh before heading off for that very well deserved lunch.

  Back to top

Time to get out of the concrete jungle?
(The Yak)

It was the Italian botanist, Luca Ghini, who founded the first botanical garden in 1544, in Pisa, Italy. Usually connected to universities, these gardens were created to study plants and their possible medicinal values. Soon, the rest of Europe followed suit and on exploratory voyages to ‘other worlds’, a botanist was usually on board charged with bringing back unknown plants, trees and flowers. The aim was to study, classify and propagate unknown species with the intention of adapting them to grow in a local garden and further the study of the plant.

Research and education was their main mission and today, whilst some botanical gardens are not open to the public, many others also serve as a fun and functional day out for those looking to get out of the concrete jungle and back into a real one!

That is exactly the mission of the Botanic Garden Ubud, which was founded in June 2006, by two enthusiasts of all things plantae! Stefan Reisner and Faizah are the key two pairs of hands behind this ongoing project. Five hectares of ravine, river, forest and meadow have been lovingly sculpted into a sanctuary for vegetabilia. The vision of making a garden that will educate and bring environmental awareness to Bali, is taking shape, but Reisner points out that it will take time and hopes to gain sufficient support and understanding from the residents of Bali to continue with this noteworthy project.

Herb, Orchid, Islamic are three small gardens within this vast garden; there is a Maze, a Meditation Grotto and a pond; bridges, Javanese joglos (houses) an amphitheatre, a shop and a numerous walkways meander past flowers, shrubs and bamboo groves. Heliconia Hill, Fern Forest and the Lily and Lotus Pond give way to the Fruit Orchard, Succulents and the Bromeliad Collection. Plant life from all over Indonesia, with constant additions from remote areas, convenes in the Botanic Garden Ubud and summarizes the wealth of tropical greenery that this archipelago is renowned for.

Stefan and Faizah invite you to “trespass into nature, to wander through the galleries and secret chambers of a green palace with the sky as roof and the tropical flora as walls.”

Day-passes to the gardens are Rp. 50.000 - it is just a perfect spot for a picnic or an afternoon stroll. And if you want to further support this eco-loving couple in their horticultural quest, memberships for the Ubud Botanic Garden Society are available for as little as Rp. 500.000 a year, the perfect gift for someone who thought they had everything!

  Back to top

New Nepenthes Collection at the Botanic Garden

A collection of more than 200 Pitcher Plants of the tropical variety of Nepenthes has been added to the Botanic Garden in Ubud. On display are species from Borneo ( Kalimantan), Sumatra and Papua. These carnivorous plants nourish on insects which are trapped in their pitchers. They lure insects into the trap by secreting a nectar.

Pitcher Plants General Information
These plants are the main reason for the title “carnivorous plants”, with a list of prey including “bugs”, frogs, mice/rats, and, rarely, even small monkeys, birds, or bats. Plants with this type of trap system have large “fruit-like” traps that can attract copious amounts of insects and consume them by the dozens. They all form from true leaves usually attached directly to the main body of the plant (Nepentes are the exception, having large, leafy petioles attatched to the true leaves by vines). These leaves are folded and twisted into hollow, almost balloon shaped traps that come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. When an insect lands or crawls onto the pitcher trap, they come across trails of nectar leading up to the mouth of the trap. At the mouth, a peristome (or lip) leads the insects to the edge of the opening and secretes an extensive amount of nectar - so much that it actually makes the insects become drunk. Once the bug or insect is sufficiently “smashed”, it falls (or begins to head into) the trap, where bristly hairs prevent any escape. When flying insects start to fall into the mouth of a pitcher plant’s trap their frantic wing beats and attempts to escape sometimes create a vacuum within the pitcher, which sucks the victim even further into the plants “stomach”. Inside the trap, digestive juices and/or enzymes slowly begin to break down prey into a nutrient-filled soup. Newly introduced insects frantically try to climb up the sides and frequently end up killing any newcomers that entered the trap after them. Aren’t they wonderful?

Pitcher Plants come in five main genera (Sarracenia, Darlingtonia, Nepenthes, Heliamphora, and Cephalotus). All five exhibit very similar leaf structures that form pitcher-like traps that effectively attract and capture prey. However, two of these (Darlingtonia and Heliamphora) are considered by some to not be true “carnivores” because they do not form digestive enzymes - they utilize bacteria to digest captured prey by proxy. The plant most often excluded from the list of pitcher plants is Darlingtonia, which is kind of ironic since this plant has been widely documented traping and “consuming” frogs, while species of Heliamphora actually use frogs in the wild for further digestion by proxy.

  Back to top

( By Ibu Kat )

I’d been coming to Ubud as a tourist for many years before I finally moved here from Singapore. At first it seemed amazingly peaceful after a decade in that busy city. But as I became calibrated to Ubud’s lower level of bustle, I realized that there was no quiet sanctuary here, no parks; they had no place in an agrarian community. Until recently there wasn’t any noise to get away from. But I missed Singapore’s leafy retreats.

The paradox of Bali is that you are surrounded by lush natural settings, but they are not really accessible. There’s been no place outside your own garden walls to nap undisturbed under a tree, laze on the grass with a book or just stroll around. Until now.

The Ubud Botanic Garden’s soft opening June 15 changes all that. Five hectares of beautiful private park open up all kinds of napping possibilities. Lovingly assembled by garden lovers Faizah and Stefan, it offers a quiet sanctuary filled with local and exotic plants. Every turn in the path brings a new experience – a forest glade, a lily pond lively with birds, a sunny meadow. I confess that I’ve been haunting it for months, breathing in its spacious green energy as I sidestepped piles of rocks and other building materials. They are gone now, integrated into a park of tranquil beauty. A Botanic Garden is always a work in progress, but the gates are open.

“Travelers can come to a standstill here after thousands of miles of noisy travel,” explains Stefan. “Our Botanic Garden is like a palace with the sky as roof and many different rooms, secret chambers, galleries and staircases. The visitor wanders through changing vistas and experiences, encouraged to trespass into nature. This is message of our Garden.”

Situated at an elevation of between 320 and 400 metres above sea level, the Botanic Garden offers an intriguing range of micro-climates that include ravine, hillside, meadow, a river, waterfalls and natural forest. Situated in the village of Kutuh Kaja just 1.3 kilometres north of central Ubud, the Garden faces the village of Petulu, home of the famous white egrets.

At the north end is a quiet spring surrounded by ferns and terrestrial orchids under a canopy of ancient trees. Then the banks of a little river open out to a grassy park planted with coffee and cocoa trees. An old teak joglo from Java stands by the bridge, waiting for its next incarnation as a coffee house. There is even rumour of a chocolatrie. A little further on the path forks, one side to meander with the river. Through a curtain of aerial fig tree roots is the entrance to a grotto behind a screen of bamboos. Here is a circular space for Tai Chi or meditation, watched over by serene stone Buddhas in niches cut into the cliff face.

The ravine opens here to a sunny little valley. The orchid enclosures, Faizah’s pride and joy, feature a growing collection of exotic specimens from all over Indonesia. She is also nursing several insect-eating pitcher plants from Kalimantan, an object of fascination for small children.

Beyond this is a large pond, already a haven for birds and other creatures hunting around the reeds and lilies. This area is planted with a soft grass-like ground cover that welcomes bare feet. Beside the pond is a large garden of medicinal herbs. And there is space here for a swing set and climbing bars if Ubud parents want to sponsor a playground.

The gentle river plunges here into a spectacular little gorge far below, marking the boundary between the valley and the meadows above. Over the little stone bridge the Bromeliad Garden is tucked into the hillside, its specimens flaring in psychedelic colours.

Up more stairs -- this is a ravine, after all -- is the Maze. I suspect this will be the destination of choice for mothers of lively children. While the kids happily lose themselves in its leafy alleys, their mums can climb a few steps higher to the formal Islamic Garden to keep an eye on things from above. Nearby is a small plantation of fruit trees which will some day supply chemical-free juices for the Garden’s refreshment carts.

On the brow of the hill overlooking the dense tropical rainforest of the ravine is a succulent garden. Here, rows of the dramatic Dragon Fruit display outrageous white blossoms and magenta fruits along with specimens of Aloe Vera and cactus.

Visit the Titan as you head back to the entrance. The largest flower on earth has an obnoxious smell that attracts flies. The world record of 2.70 metres was reached by a Titan at the Botanic Garden Wilhema in Stuttgart, Germany in October 2005, attracting 75,000 visitors to the garden.

Climbing out of the ravine and back to the real world the visitor can rest on a strategically placed bale, the perfect spot from which to watch the egrets fly back to Petulu in late afternoon.

At the Garden entrance is the impressive Atrium with its walk-through fountain. Late in May this was the venue of an intimate wedding in the local expat community. The Garden came to life for the first time as people strolled through the plantings and children raced along the paths in delight (there are not many places for a child to run in Ubud). Soon people will be saying, “Meet me in the Garden.” I will be there, napping in the shade.

The Garden can be visited after June 15 by paying an entrance fee or becoming a member. Memberships are discounted 50% for those joining before September 1. For membership information, please email

  Back to top


TITAN ARUMA generous donation provided the Botanic Garden Ubud with a number of TITAN ARUM plants.  This is the biggest flower on Earth with the worst smell. The plant was named as Amorphophallus titanum becc. by the Italian naturalist Beccari who explored the Island of Borneo. The bloom emanates an odor of rotting flesh, thus attracting flies for its fertilization. The world record for the blossom stands at 2.70 metres for the flower by the Botanic Garden Wilhema in Stuttgart, Germany (October 2005). The flowering event attracted 75,000 visitors to the garden.

  Back to top

Bali Advertiser

Ubud's Garden
( By Ibu Kat )

In a deep, cool ravine about a kilometre north of Ubud, magic is manifesting.  Down a steep set of stairs, a Javanese joglo sits in a green glade. Paths meander through shady fern gardens and copses of coffee and cocoa trees. Clumps of flowering shrubs, bamboos and spice trees line a quiet river. Ahead, the walls of the ravine are being carved into steps and terraces by a small army of workmen. Others tenderly water seedlings by the path. A garden is being born.

For almost a year, five hectares of wild ravine in Kutuh Kaja has been painstakingly transformed into Ubud’s own Botanic Garden. The land, which has been contracted for 30 years, had never been used. 

Why create a garden in fertile, flowering Ubud? Ironically in this place of gardens there is no quiet, traffic-free park near the town where one can find a sheltered corner for a picnic or a quiet read. No place for an early morning walk or jog far from the shattered sidewalks, roaring motorbikes and yapping dogs. There is lush green all around in Ubud, but nowhere to go and sit in it. Since moving here I’ve been searching for a sanctuary of tall trees and the healing silence of dense vegetation. I have high hopes that the Ubud Botanic Garden will be that special place.

Creating a garden here is a logistical and financial challenge for the German journalist whose inspiration it is. “Duke Puckler bankrupted himself twice building the Royal Gardens in Potsdam and Berlin,” Stefan Reisner reports as he shows me around. “I’m beginning to understand his obsession.” Reisner ran a small hotel in Petulu for several years. After selling it, he decided to generate something that would benefit Bali and safeguard its unique environment. The Garden will exhibit plant species from all over Bali and other parts of Indonesia, and will solicit advice from the National Botanic Gardens of Bedugul, Bogor, Zurich and Dublin. Its development is financed by private investors.

Stefan walks the many trails and steep paths several times a day as he oversees his ambitious project. I follow him through the nascent garden as he points out various microclimates and the plants they support. In the deepest shade of the ravine, a jungle of emerald ferns stands next to terrestrial orchids. At the top of a sunny bank nearby, the cactus-like dragon fruit are in elegant full bloom. In the ylang ylang by the path grows a rare Balinese orchid where it was discovered a few days earlier. “We’re finding new things all the time,” says Stefan.

The Ubud Botanic Garden will meld classical and modern themes. Niches have been carved into a steep part of cliff. Tranquil stone Buddhas gaze down at a circular tai chi and yoga grotto, soon to be sequestered behind rustling bamboo. Nearby, a large pond will feature the gigantic water lilies of Lake Victoria, with leaves up to a meter across. Stefan has designed and planted a maze; soon the growing shrubs will conceal the convoluted pathways. At the top of the garden, a formal Islamic garden is taking shape. Contemporary elements include a stylistic water feature at the entrance and a glass elevator to carry visitors down the steep ravine face.

“ Setting up a garden is like painting with living material,” says Reisner. “You have to design knowing that the plants will grow, change and eventually die.” I tried to imagine the broad strokes of colour and texture that would drape the contours of the Garden in coming years. There are elements of wildness here -- patches of dense rainforest and vigorous vines between formal plantings. A deep gorge slashes the earth along one cliff, revealing the gleam of a river far below. And a dark fold in the cliff nearby explodes every evening as thousands of bats stream out to feed. Springs bubble from secret depths.

The concept of a Botanic Garden has changed over the centuries. Originally, a Garden was established to cultivate the rare plants brought home to Europe by adventurous travelers.  Ordinary people didn’t travel much 200 years ago. It was prohibitively expensive (not to mention dangerous) to set sail in those little wooden ships. Many of these travelers were botanists and collectors. They would be gone for years, documenting and gathering plants from the tropics and bringing home seeds, cuttings and roots of species never seen before. Special glass buildings were constructed to protect these rarities from the northern climate, and parks were designed to show them off. The Botanic Garden became an exotic destination where families would go to see amazing trees, fruits and flowers from around the world.

Times have changed. Travel is no longer rare. Now we value Botanic Gardens as sanctuaries of tranquility in an increasingly hectic world. Landscape designer John Pettigrew has been involved in the project since its inception. “This is a great idea, it’s very exciting for Ubud,” he enthuses. “We’re bringing plants from all over the place.” John is consulting on the Gardens between his work with the Four Seasons, Oberoi, Begawan Giri, Bali Bird Park and private projects.

I flash forward a few years. Groups of school children are sketching the joglo in the fern grove. An old man is dozing in the shade of spice trees. There’s a Tai Chi glass going on in the Buddha Grotto. A group of tourists is photographing orchids, and a class of university students is listening to a lecture in the medicinal herb garden.

Thank you, Stefan, for sharing your dream. You’re creating not only a sustainable and appropriate tourist destination for Bali, but also an important focal point for the Ubud community. When the gates open in 2006, I’ll be first in line.

Copyright © 2005 Greenspeak

  Back to top
                    - all rights reserved - ©2006  - supported by balispirit    Designed by Galang Studio