Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

Tropical Plants of Indonesia

By Michelle Wishhart ; Updated September 21, 2017
A wild Indonesian flower

Encompassing a staggering 17,508 islands, the Republic of Indonesia in Southeast Asia is home to an amazing array of wildlife. Rain forests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra offer incredible tropical plant species, many of which can only be found within the country.

Corpse Flower

The corpse flower (Rafflesia arnoldii) is the world's largest single flower, native exclusively to the Sumatra and Borneo rain forests in Indonesia. The plant is a parasite that lacks roots, stems or leaves, growing only a Tetrastigma vine. The plant sucks nutrients from its host plant, unable to produce any on its own. The plant's common name comes from its putrid scent, which resembles that of a decaying corpse. The plant produces its smell in order to attract pollinating flies. The corpse flower has a distinct appearance, with large, textured reddish-brown petals and a cavity in the center. The corpse flower thrives in the high humidity and heat of the rain forest. All species in the Rafflesia genus are either threatened or endangered, and they are often very difficult to find in the wild.

Titan Arum

The bizarre titan arum flower

Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is an enormous flower found only in the rain forests of Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia. At night, the tuberous plant unfurls a gigantic spadix that produces an intense, corpselike stench that attracts the plant's pollinators: flies. The titan arum grows in warm, high-humidity climates with heavily fertilized soils and full sun to partial shade. The plant requires moist soil, even when undergoing winter dormancy. Though the plant is only listed as "vulnerable," the natural habitat of the titan arum is considered critically threatened.


Jambu (Syzygium aqueum), also commonly referred to as watery rose apple, is a tropical plant that can be found throughout India, Indonesia and Malaysia. The plant is a medium to small size tree that reaches a maximum height of between 10 and 20 feet. The plant is known for its small, pinkish-white fruits, which look sort of like a collapsed pear. The tree blooms with yellow or white flowers in summer and fall. Jambu fruits are a food source for wild animals such as monkeys and jambu fruit doves. When cultivated, the plant will do well in most well-drained soils, in full sunlight.


About the Author


Michelle Wishhart is a writer based in Portland, Ore. She has been writing professionally since 2005, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for City on a Hill Press, an alternative weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz, Calif. An avid gardener, Wishhart worked as a Wholesale Nursery Grower at Encinal Nursery for two years. Wishhart holds a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts and English literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.