History of Bogor Botanic Garden

's Lands Plantentuin

The founder of 's Lands Plantentuin, the name given to the Garden by the Dutch, was Casper Georg Carl Reinwardt, a German who moved to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and studied natural sciences, specializing in botany and chemistry.

In 1817, at the age of 44, Reinwardt was appointed to the position of Director in agricultural business, arts and sciences on Java and neighboring islands. He was interested in investigating plants which were widely used by the Javanese for domestic and medicinal purposes. Reinwardt decided to gather all these plants in a botanic garden in Bogor, at that time called Buitenzorg (meaning 'Without a Care'). This also provided an opportunity to collect plants and seeds from other parts of the Archipelago and the Botanic Garden would eventually make Bogor a centre for the promotion of agriculture and horticulture in Indonesia.

On May 18, 1817, 47 hectares of the grounds bordering the palace were established as a Botanic Garden. Reinwardt became the first director from 1817 to 1822, during which time approximately 900 living plants were introduced to the Garden.

Prior to this, Sir Stamford Raffles had been Governor of Java from 1811 to 1816 and during his residence in Buitenzorg attempted to lay out the Palace grounds as an English-style landscaped garden. He even brought in two gardens from Kew in London, UK. The monument he erected in memory of his wife, Lady Olivia Marianne, who died in 1814, can be seen in the Garden.

The first catalogue of plants in the Garden (914 species) was published in 1823 by C.L. Blume (Director of the Garden from 1822 to 1826). This was the basis of the catalogue which is still used today.

In 1830, Johannes Elias Teysmann, a Dutch gardener, became curator of Bogor Botanic Garden and spent more than 50 years developing the Garden. Seven years later Justus Karl Hasskarl was appointed his assistant curator and convinced the director to re-arrange the plantings in the Garden by taxonomic families. This was a major undertaking as a huge part of the collection had to be transplanted. Some trees were too large to be moved as can be seen today by the date of planting shown on read labels.

Hasskarl proposed starting a library, which was opened in 1842 as the Bibliotheca Bogoriensis, and constructing a separate building for the Herbarium Bogoriense, which was opened in 1844.

In 1844 he wrote the second catalogue of plants which listed more than 2800 species.

Over many years Teysmann brought thousands of plants into Bogor from his travels throughout the Archipelago. The striking flame tree, Delonix regia (Leg.) which is now found all over Indonesia was introduced by Teysmann in 1848 from Singapore (flowers September until January).

In 1848 the Garden received four seeds from West Africa of the oil palm, Elaeis guineensis (Arec.). These were the first specimens to be introduced to Indonesia. Unfortunately the last of the original trees died in 1993 but offspring of these mother plants can be found all over South East Asia. Palm oil is of major economic importance as a food source and has useful fibres for ropes, matting and broom heads.

Teysmann was also remarkable for discovering the importance of cassava, Manihot esculenta, as an alternative food source between rice harvests or when harvests failed. It was originally found in Batam, an island off Sumatra, growing as a hedge, and is know grown all over Indonesia under many different local names such as ubi kayu, singkong, and ubi perancis. The root tuber is a highly versatile food source and the leaves which contain cyanide are only edible when cooked.

Between 1852 and 1854 the Garden played an important role in the introduction of quinine to Java, an extract used for treating malaria. Quinine is produced from the bark of the Cinchona (Rub.) tree, originally from Peru.

In recognition of all Teysmann's work in the Garden a memorial pillar of polished granite was placed in Taman Teysmann (Teysmann's Garden) and four species of teak and verbenas, in the Genus Teijsmaniodendron were named after him.

R.H.C.C. Scheffer, the third director of the Garden from 1869 to 1880, was very interested in the development of agriculture and used the garden as a tool for scientific research. Stock was grown in the Garden and seeds and cuttings distributed all over the country of useful plants such as Australian Eucalyptus species, tobacco, maize and Liberian coffee.

In 1880, Dr. Melchior Treub became director of the Garden. The next 30 years were a decisive period for the Garden and all scientific institutions associated with it. Under Treub's leadership, fundamental research was successfully completed on diseased that threatened plants of economic importance, such as the coffee-leaf disease caused by a parasitic fungus and the sereh-disease that affected sugarcane.

In 1884, an old Hospital ward was fitted up as a small laboratory for visitors. Treub's philosophy was to conduct scientific research to benefit both agriculture and industry.

Trueb realised the need to establish world-wide recognition for the Bogor Botanic Garden as a scientific institution and a benefactor of local and European agriculture.

In 1892 the Garden was expanded in size to 60 hectares with the addition of the island between the two arms of the Ciliwung river.

From 1905 until 1945

During the next 40 years there were two world wars, a world-wide economic crisis and Indonesia's struggle for independence. Between 1900 and 1930 the directors of the Garden had few financial problems because of the relatively strong economic position of the Dutch-Indies. The laboratory attracted increasing numbers of visiting scientists and this success resulted in the opening of the Treub laboratory in 1914.

By 1927, so many plants had been introduced that there was a shortage of land so an area to the east of the Ciliwung river was added. The southern part of this was planted similar to the main Garden, the rest laid out as large lawns, avenues, ponds, a glasshouse (orchid house) and the teahouse, Café Botanicus.

Princess Astrid of Belgium visited the Garden with Prince Leopold on their honeymoon in 1928 and an avenue of Agathis dammara (Arauc.) trees and red and yellow Canna hybrida (Canna.) with black leaves (colours of the Belgian flag) was planted in her honour in the new part of the Garden. The Victoria Pond at the southern end of the Astrid Avenue was made following their visit.

The most complete catalogue of the Garden "An Alphabetical List of Plants Cultivated in the Botanic Garden, Buitenzorg" was produced by Dakkus in 1930. (This catalogue was updated in 1957 and 1963.)

Economic recession affected the Garden from 1930. Funds decreased resulting in a reduction of scientific staff, research and upkeep of the Garden.

The Dutch East-Indies declared was on Japan on 8 December 1941. In March 1942 the Japanese marched into Bogor and a year later took over directorship of both the Garden and the Herbarium. Prof. T. Nakai, a Japanese botanist, was appointed director of the Botanic Garden and Kanehira, another Japanese botanist, head of the Herbarium. These two men strove to protect the Garden and the Herbarium from Japanese soldiers who were intent on cutting and using the trees from the Garden for timber during the invasion. It was under their supervision that the Garden was named Shokubutsuen (Botanic Garden).

During the Second World War the Garden was closed and at the end of the war if suffered greatly from neglect, destruction and theft. The giant Rafflesia flower had been in the Garden up until the war, at which time it disappeared and since then the gardeners have sadly been unable to introduce it.

Kebun Raya Indonesia

The Dutch managed the Garden again from 1945 to 1949 when Indonesia gained full independence, took charge of the Garden and renamed it "Kebun Raya" (Great Garden). Kusnoto Setyodiworjo became the first Indonesian curator, who was eventually to become head of the Garden in 1959. During the next few years of political instability the Garden suffered from staff and fund shortages.

In 1962, the Garden became part of the Lembaga Biologi Nasional (LBN) (National Biological Institute), of which in 1964 Otto Soemarwoto was appointed Director. He Promoted pure scientific research and developed the Garden as a tropical biological research institute, which would ultimately bring wide ranging benefits to agriculture, the pharmaceutical industry and health care.

Under the New Order of President Soeharto (1967) more funds became available for education and research, and the Garden began to improve. When the first five-year plan Repelita I started, research was in cooperation with all other departments of LBN and focused on aspects such as plant photo-periodicity, weed-control with herbicides and the genetics of some economically important plants.

The integral research of Repelita I continued with Repelita II, from 1974, but incorporated investigation into the use of natural resources such as compost production from household rubbish and the use of medicinal plants. There was also research into the improvement of citrus fruits, the carbohydrate level of some genera of the gingers (Zing.) and the culture of certain orchids.

"An alphabetical list of plant species cultivated in the Hortus Botanic Bogoriense" was published by Didin S. Sastrapradja in 1978 and revised by Usep Sutisna in 1985 and by Roemantyo et al. in 1991.

Kebun Botani Serpong (Serpong Botanical Garden) was set up in 1978, a complex of 350 hectares in the village of Serpong, about 30 kilometres north of Bogor. This is where research is carried out into the improvement of many fruit species, such as orange, langsat, rambutan, guava, mangosteen, avocado, mango and durian. From 1983, the Kebun Raya is by Ministerial Decree formally involved in the administration of this Garden.

The orchid house was enlarge in 1977 with the financial support of the President's wife Ibu Siti Hartinah Soeharto. It was obvious that the orchid collection in the Garden had only a small percentage of the numbers of wild species in Indonesia, so from 1985 collecting trips were made around the Archipelago. The glasshouses containing the now extensive and valuable collection are open to the public only by special permission.

In the 1980's, the National Biological Institute (LBN) was reorganised and split into the Research and Development Centre for Biology (Puslitbang Biolgi) and the Garden itself. In 1990, Sampurno Kadarsan handed over the management of Puslitbang Biologi to Soetikno Wirjoatmodjo and Suhirman became head of the Garden.

Over the years the Garden has seen many changes: buildings have been added, paths and roads improved, and plant collection increased. Also natural changes occur, the trees and new plants grow and old trees are lost through old age, termites or storm damage.

The Garden is also a place of recreation for residents and visitors, and overseas visitors are increasing as the government encourages the development of tourism.

As a response to the pressures of increasing numbers of visitors, Rotary Club Bogor started a campaign in 1996 to raise the awareness of visitors for a cleaner Botanic Garden.

Friends of the Indonesian Botanic Garden (Mitra Kebun Raya Indonesia) is a non profit making organisation established in September 1994 for members to take an active role in the Indonesian Botanic Garden and also to raise awareness of the environmental issues and protection of plants in the interests of the public.

Under the present direction of Dr. Ir. Suhirman, research is still being carried out by scientists in the Garden specialising in the potential uses of Indonesian plants for medicine, ornamentals and agriculture, and the protection of rare and endangered species. Scientists participate in rainforest exploration, compiling of data and collection of plant for the Garden.

The Indonesian Network for Plant Conservation (INetPC) was established in April 1994 primarily to facilitate communication and cooperation between conservation organisations, groups, institutions and individuals working in Indonesia and their International counterparts. The INetPC provides services such as the quarterly newsletter (Eksplorasi), membership database, resource library, conferences, seminars, cooperative research and the monthly Bogor Informal Conservation Meeting. The primary vehicle for the network is the newsletter Eksplorasi which contains articles on national, regional and international activities.


Photographs by Herwig Zahorka