Rare Plants

Very many rare plant species are found within the grounds of the Garden itself and a number are trees. Some others are housed within the special collection of the Rare Plants and Orchid Conservatory which is not generally open to the public, but for which a virtual tour is available.

Maingaya malayana, for example, is the sole species of the genus Maingaya that is naturally found only in Peninsular Malaysia. Of the two known localities there, one (Gunung Bubu in Perak) has not been revisited specially for this species, last known from there in the 19th Century. At the other locality (Penang Hill) a small population of this tree is still known and seeds were collected by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) in 1971. From this, seedlings were subsequently raised both at the FRIM and the Rimba Ilmu. These have developed into small trees which are exceedingly attractive when in bloom.

Maingaya malayana in flower at the Rimba Ilmu.
(Photo: L.G. Saw)

Another example of a rare species is Ridleyandra morganii, a herb in the African Violet family (Gesneriaceae) that produces beautiful blue-mauve bell-shaped flowers. The species is also distinctive by its leaves, which have deeply incised "saw-tooth" edges. This species is a herb of the frequently mist-draped mountain forests of Peninsular Malaysia's Main Range, which rises to around 2000 m. It is not known elsewhere and so is one of the many specialities of the montane flora of Malaysia. Until recently, this species was thought to be a member of the genus Didymocarpus. Now, however, specialists have diagnosed many distinct genera within the whole suite of such species, including Ridleyandra (established in 1998), which has about two dozen known species.

Ridleyandra morganii is one of the several rare plants 
being tried and observed in cultivation at the Rimba Ilmu.
 Photo: E. Minoura

Several young Horsfieldia superba trees are being raised along the front-gate walkway to the Rimba Ilmu. This species is endemic to Peninsular Malaysia and is getting rarer as lowland forests diminish in extent.
Photo: KM Wong