Eka Karya Bedugul Botanical Garden in Tabanan regency will be the venue for an international conference in 2014 on tropical ferns, locally known as paku-pakuan.
Bayu Adjie, an expert on ferns from the Indonesian Institute of Science ( LIPI ), which overviews botanical gardens all over the country, said that the 2-hectare Cyathea Park in Bedugul Botanical Garden was home to rare tropical ferns.
'Ferns are unique plants, but people, experts in particular, tend to ignore them in their research,' Adjie said.
Originating from the idea of Prof. Ir. Kusnoto Setyodiwiryo, the gardens were established on July 15, 1959, on a 154-hectare plot of land at 1,250 to 1,450 meters above sea level overlooking Beratan Lake and Pura Ulun Danu. The gardens house extensive tropical plant collections of more than 1,187 plant species, including orchids from Bali, Java, East Nusa Tenggara ( NTT ), Sulawesi and Papua. There are also around 524 birches species from North and South America, China, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands and Africa.
'There are many ferns in the Cyathea Park, from ancient species such as of Ophioglossaceae, Marrattiaceae, Osmundaceae, Equisetaceae and Psilotaceae, to modern ferns. They share similar DNA characteristics,' the scientist said.
Adjie further explained that ferns possessed medicinal content, being rich in vitamins, potassium, fiber, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, iron and anti-oxidants.
Only a very few people understood the health potential contained in ferns, he said.
'People in Java, Sumatra and other places in Indonesia use ferns as food. They also use the plants for various medicinal purposes.'
There are an estimated 10,000 fern species in the world, of which 3,000 are found across Indonesia.
Adjie said the ancient fern species were now endangered, with only four plants left in the gardens.
'We are now requesting permission from the Natural Resource Conservation Agency [BKSDA] to grow these ancient fern species,' he said.
The upcoming conference, Adjie said, would bring together fern experts from across the globe to discuss the plants and their future in the botanical world.
'We can share the most recent research and development on ferns conducted by world scientists,' he said.
The Cyathea Park also has a building constructed in the form of a dinosaur, with carpets of thick mosses of various species covering the building.
'During the pre-historic age, only mosses could grow in the soil,' he said.
The gardens house 70 species of moss and 104 types of cactus originating from Africa, Europe and America. In addition, the botanical garden also collects hundreds of medicinal plants and flowering plants for Balinese traditional rituals.
Bedugul Botanical Garden is a Forest Conservation Area, Education and Research Center. 'It is also developed as a recreational area for locals as we have an outbound area, guesthouses, restaurants and other supporting facilities.'