Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Urticaceae of Java, Indonesia

A project funded by Friends of the Botanic Gardens Science Scholarship

Dr Barry Conn - Principal Research Scientist
Dr Julisasi Hadiah - Kebun Raya Bogor, Indonesia
Mr Solikin - Kebun Raya Purwadadi, Indonesia

Barry Conn has continued his research into the taxonomy and phylogeny of the Urticaceae (Stinging nettle family) with colleagues and students from Australia and Indonesia. The Friends of the Botanic Gardens in Sydney generously provided financial support in 2011 to enable comparative field studies of this family in Java.

Although the flora of Java has been extensively explored since the 1800s, the Urticaceae remains a plant family that is very inadequately represented in major herbarium collections. The lack of scientific interest in this plant group is curious, especially since many species are used as food, for example, Urtica and Pilea melastomoides - a common aromatic vegetable in Jawa Barat, Indonesia; for fibre – species of Boehmeria, Debregeasia, Urtica Girardinia; several are cultivated as ornamentals, particularly in SE Asia - Boehmeria, Elatostema, Pilea and Soleirolia).  Species of Elatostema and Procris are used as a shampoo in Jawa and Bali (Indonesia) (pers. obs.).

The lack of scientific knowledge still remains a major impediment that continues to hinder the preparation of regional flora accounts of the Urticaceae. The only complete account of the Urticaceae occurring in Java was published in 1965, with minor corrections in 1968, with many of these species not re-collected since the early 1970s.

In conjunction with staff from Kebun Raya Indonesia a draft annotated census of the Urticaceae species occurring in Java is being prepared.

As part of the great global movement of plants in the 18th and 19th centuries, many valuable and commercial plants were sent from the Neotropics to Europe as seeds or as live specimens. Cecropia (Urticaceae) was in cultivation in England at least by 1789 and then introduced throughout the world, now an invasive plant in Jawa Barat. Samples of leaf material of naturalised species of Cecropia were collected from populations growing between Bogor and Jakarta so that the molecular diversity of these plants can be evaluated. 





Pilea trinervia
Pilea trinervia, a erect herb growing in Taman Hutan Raya R.Soeryo, Jawa Timur. Photo: B. Conn

Elatostema strigosum
Elatostema strigosum and other species dominating the spray-zone of Coban Pelangi, Jawa Timur. Photo: B. Conn

Barry Conn collecting Verbena incompta
Barry Conn collecting Verbena incompta (Verbenaceae) alongside road through agricultural land, Cangar region, Jawa Timur. Photo: J. Hadiah

Cecropia pachystachya and C. peltata
Cecropia pachystachya and C. peltata growing in disturbed area surrounding kampong, on road to Cileput from Bogor, Jawa Barat. Photo. B. Conn