Malaysian Borneo's flora is really quite astonishing. Due to extensive mountain ranges in Sabah and Sarawak many of the species are endemic not just to Borneo but to Sabah and Sarawak as well. Probably the most famous in Borneo is the world's largest flower the Rafflesia, there are only a few places where there is a good chance to see these plants bloom, the Poring Hot Springs area and the Rafflesia Conservation Area in Sabah.
Many species of Pitcher plant, the Nepenthes, are native to Borneo too. These carnivorous plants are largely found in the higher altitudes although some species can be found in shaded areas lower altitudes. The largest of these species can hold up to 4 liters of digestive liquid. To learn more about the higher altitude species in Borneo, the Fernarium, the Cocker Range Park provides an educational experience in beautiful surroundings.
Whilst there are more than 100 species of commercially grown and hybridised orchids Malaysian Borneo is home to the world's largest diversity of natural orchids, with over 1000 species growing in the wild. Some of the most sort after and rarest species can be found here, although listed under CITES removal of orchids from the wild is strictly controlled. The best places to see Malaysian Borneo's variety of orchids is the Orchid De Villa, 30 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu, and the orchid conservation center in Poring.
Many floral species provide a plethora of building and medicinal uses. Numerous herbs, roots leaves and bark are used by tribes to cure a variety of illnesses and as a source of food and water. Building materials include bamboo, Belian (iron wood) and teak as well as rattan, an incredibly strong vine which is stripped and used to tether virtually anything.
SABAH & SARAWAK BOTANICAL PLACES OF INTEREST
This botanical site is blessed with astounding variety of flora and fauna that ranges over four climate zones; from rich lowland dipterocarp forest through the montane oak, rhododendron, to the coniferous forests, to the alpine meadow plants, and to the stunted bushes of the summit zone. There are more than 1500 species of orchids to be found here.
Rafflesia Forest Reserve
Located 25km from the town of Tambunan, Rafflesia world's largest parasitic flower is found in this forest reserve. The Rafflesia was discovered during an expedition to South-Western Sumatra in 1818 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and Dr Joseph Arnold. When finally described in 1821, it was named Rafflesia Arnoldi to commemorate both naturalists.
Mulu National Park
Mulu has an exceptional level of biological diversity and endemism. Over 3,500 species of plants have been recorded at the park, including a variety of highly specialised orchids and palms and unusual species such as the One Leaf Plant (Monophyllae sp.)
Bako National Park
Bako contains almost every type of vegetation to be found in Sarawak, including highly distinctive carnivourous plants. This park has lush vegetation that represents the seven ecosystems with an abundant with Dischidea Raffesiana, a plant with special expanded hollow leaves.
The forest around Danum Valley Field Centre is dominated by dipterocarp trees, with the canopy reaching a height of over 70 metres in places. Some 90% of the conservation area is classified as lowland dipterocarp forest with the remaining 10% being low canopy, sub-montane forest mainly found on Mt. Danum in the heart of the conservation area. Interestingly, there are very few large palms Found here.
The Maliau Basin is a tremendously valuable botanical resource for sabah. Some plants of interest are: Dipterocarps, more than 74 species. There are also Rhododendrons flowering in the heart of the forest and most common are the R. bomeense, R. durionifolium, and R. javanicum. Other flowers such as Orchids, Nepenthes and Rafflesia tengku-adlinii can also be found here.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve is so unbelievably rich in flora and fauna. A large number of tropical plants thrive here, and some species are known for their medicinal and therapeutic properties. Many others remain to be discovered and researched upon.