Rare Plants and Orchid Conservatory

Go Virtual Tour

The new Conservatory is a part-research, part-educational facility in the Rimba Ilmu's  effort to provide a better understanding of rare species from a conservation perspective. It is therefore also a logical extension to the Rain Forests and Our Environment Exhibition and our Environmental Education Programme. Planting establishment for the Conservatory, measuring 24m x 10m and served by rotary-dish coolers with a roofmount fog-misting system, began in September 1999, with some 1000 accessions established by December 2000. This collection includes some of the rarest and most threatened species we know. 
 
PaphiopedilumRothClose.jpg (32457 bytes) Close up view of the Paphiopedilum rothschildianum, or Rothchild's Slipper Orchid. 

(Photo: F L Tang)

 
A bed of Paphiopedilum barbatum slipper orchids in the Conservatory. 

(Photo: F L Tang)

PaphiopedilumBarbatum.jpg (48941 bytes)
There is a landscaped section with a bubbling pool and raised walkway upon entry, covering approximately half the area, as well as systematic collections, the latter principally orchids. All display plants are accessioned with a UMC (University of Malaya Conservatory) number and labelled. 
 
AlocasiaCuprea.jpg (42412 bytes) Alocasia cuprea (Araceae), which is naturally found only on the island of Borneo, and which has found its way into cultivation locally. 

(Photo: K M Wong)

This Conservatory displays three forms of rarity normally shown by plants in Malaysia and nearby regions. 

In the first group (examples with labels coded EN), the plant species are naturally endemic (or restricted) to particular localities or sites. If these sites or localities are destroyed or transformed drastically, such species will be endangered or become extinct. 

The second category (with labels coded RM) includes species that have a relatively wide distribution outside of Malaysia, but which are infrequently encountered (and so are rare) in the country. We will also lose these species from our flora if these sites are too disturbed. 

The third group (coded LF on the labels) is represented by species that were once much more common, usually found in lowland forests, but whose range and population have been much decreased, such as by reduction in habitat area (by forest conversion to agricultural or settlement schemes). Such species could become much rarer and may even be threatened if habitat area further decreases. Commoner plant species accompanying the special displays here are labelled without any special category codes. 
 
Alocasia melo (Araceae), a species restricted to only one particular rock type in northern Borneo, was described as a species new to science only in 1997. The epithet 'melo' refers to the melon-skin texture of the leaves. 

(Photo: K M Wong)

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In addition, this Conservatory includes collections of the indigenous orchid species of Malaysia or nearby countries in the region. These are systematically catalogued to provide a baseline collection for reference and study. Orchid species are routinely given plain tags with their accession number and name. 
 
new-work.jpg (28343 bytes) New orchid accessions being routinely mounted and potted at the work area of the Conservatory. 

(Photo: F L Tang)

The Conservatory will not be open routinely during its first phase, but short tours are offerred to visitors attending Guided Garden Walks every first Saturday of the month, when time permits after the main tour.