Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flora of Indonesia - The Origins

The origin of flora in Indonesia is heavily affected by geographical and geological events in Asian continent and Australasian continent (now Australia). The present New Guinea island was connected with the present Australia continent, forming a supercontinent called the southern supercontinent Gondwana. This supercontinent began to break up 140 million years ago, and the New Guinea region (previously known as Sahul) moved towards the equator. As a result, animals from New Guinea traveled to Australian continent and vice versa, creating many different species living in different ecosystems. This activities still occur until the two regions separated completely.

Asian continent influences, on the other hand, is the result of the reformation of the Laurasia supercontinent, which existed after the breakup of Rodinia around 1 billion years ago. Around 200 million years ago, the Laurasia supercontinent split completely, forming Laurentia (now America) and Eurasia continents. Although this occurred, the mainland of the Eurasia continent, including China, was not separated completely from the Indonesian archipelago. As a result, plants from the Eurasia mainland could propagate to the archipelago, and, under a different ecosystems, new forms of species were formed.

In the nineteenth century, Alfred Russel Wallace proposed the idea of the Wallace Line, which is a line that divides Indonesian archipelago into two regions, the Asian biogeographical region (Sundaland) and the Australasia biogeographical Region (Wallacea). The line runs through the Indonesian Archipelago, between Borneo and Sulawesi (Celebes); and between Bali and Lombok.

The Indonesian archipelago, home of the Spice Islands, has been known since ancient time as the source of spices, such as clove, nutmeg, and pepper. The Molucca islands were, until the late eighteenth century, the only source of economically significant spices. In the colonial time, clove and nutmeg were the most valuable commodities after gold and silver for the most Europeans. During the Dutch colonial era in Indonesia, the Dutch also created many plantages (plantations) of coffee, tea and sugar cane, mostly in Java.

Along with the history of Indonesia the sailors from India, China and Europe have brought also new kinds of plant species to this archipelago. Plant species, which are not native to this archipelago, such as tea, coffee and rubber tree are then established.




Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flora_of_Indonesia#Indonesia.27s_national_flowers

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