Apr 302015
 

Like many geographers, I have long held a more than passing interest in botanical gardens. From a geographic standpoint, botanical gardens offer the chance to closely examine plants that can be very difficult, virtually impossible, to find in the wild. Many botanical gardens display the typical plant assemblages that are common in the local region, while also giving a plant-based snapshot of different environments elsewhere.

Mexico has an extraordinary variety of flowering plants, estimated (even twenty years ago) to include more than 20,000 different species.  Many garden plants commonly planted in Europe, the USA and elsewhere originated in Mexico.

Over the years I’ve looked at Mexican cacti and succulents in numerous botanical gardens around the world, but was pleasantly surprised when visiting Indonesia in 2013 to discover that the Purwodadi Botanic Garden in Pasuruan, East Java, actually has an entire section devoted to the Mexican flora characteristic of semi-arid conditions (see photos).

Entrance to the”Taman Mexico” (Mexico Park):

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The 85-hectare Botanic Garden was first established in 1941, and has plants collected from a wide range of areas in Indonesia, as well as smaller sections devoted to plants from elsewhere. I’m not sure how old the Mexican section is, but the plants are clearly thriving, despite showing some signs of neglect. This is mainly because the climate in the Botanic Garden (located at 8 degrees south of the equator and longitude 113 degrees east) is fairly similar to some parts of Mexico. The Garden has an elevation of 300 meters and an annual rainfall of 2366 mm.

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Assuming that the Mexican Embassy in Jakarta had some part in establishing this fine display of Mexican flora, perhaps it is time that embassy officials revisit their gift and see whether they can’t enhance the Mexican garden by sponsoring some information signs, so that visitors can truly appreciate these venerable plants, not only for their beauty, but also for their ecological and economic significance.

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There are lots of additional botanical goodies to be seen here in addition to the Mexican Park, including stately jacaranda trees and an amazing collection of banana plants. The Purwodadi Botanic Gardens are well worth a visit if you ever happen to be anywhere in the vicinity. They are located about 70 kilometers south of the city of Surabaya towards Malang. Allow at least 90 minutes for the drive.

Photos by Tony Burton; all rights reserved.

Details:

Purwodadi Botanic Garden, Jl. Surabaya-Malang Km.65 Purwodadi Pasuruan, Pasuruan, East Java 67163, Indonesia. Tel: +62341426046 www.krpurwodadi.lipi.go.id email: redaksiwebkrp@gmail.com

Embassy of Mexico in Jakarta: embmexic@rad.net.id / embmexico@gmail.com

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