The latest book from prolific Borneo based botanist Anthony Lamb is likely to be one of his most popular . The subjects are 109 species of edible fruits that grow wild in Borneo’s forests. Lamb estimates that of the 15,000 plants native to Borneo at least 500 species are edible and eaten by locals. Thus this guide provides an excellent overview rather than a comprehensive botanical monograph. The book is a hefty 296 pages lavishly illustrated with photographs and includes an extensive introduction to the fruits found in 11 different habitats as well as a double page spread for each individual fruit species.
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Not surprisingly, the majority of fruits eaten by humans in Borneo evolved to be eaten by primates such as orangutans, gibbons and macaques long before the first humans arrived in Borneo some 50,000 years ago. This male orangutan is eating unripe Ficus racemosa figs. Humans also eat both and ripe unripe Ficus racemosa figs. Photo by Guy Broome.
Descriptions of only four out of 150 species of figs native to Borneo are included. This reflects the fact that although figs in Borneo provide a very important food supply for wildlife they are relatively insignificant in human diets. The four illustrated Ficus species include , Ficus racemosa , Ficus nota (listed as Ficus uncinata) and Ficus malayana . Ficus callosa
In you have ever been caught by spiny rattan whip when walking a jungle path in Borneo you will not be surprised to learn that there are over 125 species of rattans in Borneo but you may be surprised to learn that many rattans produce edible fruit eaten by both primates and hornbills.
A large number of Borneo’s plants produce seeds edible by humans including these giant chestnuts which in the forest are dispersed by porcupines, and giant ground squirrels. Borneo is a world center of diversity for oaks and chestnuts (Fagacea) with over 90 species growing wild.
These bright red Baccaurea fruits produce seeds surrounded by bright blue flesh which is eaten by birds, primates and humans. The fruit guide illustrates 7 different species of Baccaurea (Phyllanthaceae), 6 wild species of Garcinias (mangosteens), 10 species of wild mango and 9 species of wild durians.
This Island Palm Civet Paradoxurus philippinensis is eating a ripe Terap or Tarap Artocarpus odoratissimus one of 22 wild Artocarpus species that grow in the Borneo forests. 10 species of Artocarpus are illustrated in this guide. As described by the author many wild fruit trees in Borneo are also cultivated to a limited extent often found growing in the forest adjacent to remote villages. Photo by Joe Pan