Papua and West Papua have a lot to offer. There are plenty of reasons you should visit these two places. Besides the water sports destinations like Raja Ampat, check out their flora and fauna, too. As part of their ecotourism, animals and plants in West Papua are equally interesting.
So, what are the unique plants in this province that you can find? Check out some of them here first:
- Sago palms in the sago forests
If people in Java Island have rice as their source of carbohydrates, then the Papuans and West Papuans own sago. This pinnate-leaved palm grows in humidity and freshwater swamps. Once it is picked and cooked, it later becomes sago starch, which is their staple food.
For your first visit, try one of their local dishes made of sago. It is called sago caterpillar. Yes, just like the name itself, this dish is made of sago and caterpillar, too. Of course, since it is harder to find the caterpillar than the sago stalk, this menu may cost you a bit of a fortune.
- Mangrove in the mangrove forest
There are plenty of plants in West Papua, and mangrove is another species on this island. One of them can be found in Bintuny Bay, located in the Bird’s Head Peninsula. This mangrove forest is also the source of woodchip production. Besides this, mangrove may also play a bigger role in the environment, according to Forest News.
Since the issues regarding climate change have grown more serious over decades, mangrove forests in West Papua can be part of the environmental solution. According to Sigit Sasmito, a researcher at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the regeneration of mangrove may help to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change.
- Nipa palms in the forests
Nipa palm is still one of the plants in West Papua. The nipa sap (toddy) is tapped when one cuts the stalk. It consists of high sugar—18% solids. No wonder, nipa palm is considered one of the unlimited food and energy sources. Also known by the Latin name Nypa fruticans, nipa palm has already been introduced and grown in West Africa, according to a published research by Lawrence S. Hamilton and Dennis H.Murphy in Springer.
Besides sugar, nipa palms can be produced as alcohol. Besides in this province, nipa palm can also be found in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
- Terminalia kaernbachii (okari nuts)
If you would like to see more plants in this province but prefer a safer ground instead of the wild, there is one place to go to. It is called Wasur National Park. This park is also located on the border between Papua and Papua New Guinea. One of the most dominant plants here are the Terminalia kaernbachii plants.
Its common name is okari nuts. It can grow as tall as 45 meters but is rather slight in appearance. The bole is normally straight and cylindrical—and also buttressed. This plant also produces the tastiest tropical seeds you can have, according to the locals.
- Melaleuca leucadendra (kayu putih)
This plant can also be found in Wasur National Park. With the Latin name Melaleuca leucadendra, this plant is also known as paperbark. Some refer to this as weeping paperbark, long-leaved paperbark, or white paperbark. As a tree, Melaleuca plant can grow as tall as 70 meters, with thick, white and papery bark covering its trunk. It also has weeping, thinner branches.
The good thing about this plant is that it can grow throughout the year. The flowers are creamish-looking in appearance, whether they are milky or greenish-white. This plant is part of its genus Myrtaceae. Melaleuca is used to produce cajuput oil (minyak kayu putih). The oil can also be turned into perfume and other household products.
The oil of the plant is usually extracted from the leaves and the branches. Besides in this province, Melaleuca can also be found in North Australia. Since its oil easily vaporises in humid air, people can smell it just by standing next to the tree.
This is another plant that you can also find in Wasur National Park. There are four types of eucalyptus plants in Indonesia:
- Eucalyptus deglupta in Celebes Island
- Eucalyptus urophylla and Eucalyptus alba from East Nusa Tenggara
- Eucalyptus pellita from West Papua
Eucalyptus has been prioritised for the Industrial Plant Forest (or HTI, which stands for Hutan Tanaman Industri). This plant can be produced as pulp or paper. Eucalyptus has also been used as part of building construction and used by the coal industry in Brazil since early 2000. This plant can grow in the highlands (800 metres) and the dry weather.
These are some of the plants in West Papua. By visiting and learning more about them, you will see that Papua and West Papua have a lot to offer.