Discovering nature in the city


SINCE 1974, a quiet corner of Universiti Malaya has been carefully cultivated for scientific research as well as for aesthetic purposes.  

This area is Rimba Ilmu, which literally means Forest of Knowledge. The tranquil garden and forest is the only scientifically-organised botanical garden in Kuala Lumpur accessible to the public. 

The array of tropical plant life here is fabulous, ranging from medicinal plants and palms to citrus and citroid species, bamboo, ferns, ginger, tropical fruits and timber. There are more than 1,600 species of fauna in the park. 

Upon entering, one will see a large water lily pond with various species of floating plants. A few steps away is the rare plant and orchid conservatory, which is like a greenhouse. It is constantly kept cool and humid to moisturise the delicate plants. 

Rimba Ilmu is located within the University Malaya grounds.

There are some rare and expensive Slipper Orchids like the Paphiopedilum callosum from north Malaysia bordering Thailand, and striking Jewel Orchids like Macodes petola. 

Botany students or enthusiasts will find each plant labelled with both popular and scientific names. For casual visitors, trees shade the gently looping footpaths ensuring a pleasant walk. 

Flowering trees like the Kepayang Air (Crateva religiosa) will flower early each March while species that never fail to fascinate include the bizarre crown of the Cycas rumphii with its cluster of narrow leaves and the huge Umbrella Leaf palm (daun paying or Johannesteijs-mannia altifrons) resembling giant shuttlecocks. 

Children learningabout someof the faunafound atRimba Ilmu.

The herb garden is an example of nature's great medicinal chest as it contains plants used to treat all sorts of illnesses and ailments. 

Among the herbs available are Kachip Fatimah and Zingiberaceae from India, which is used for post-natal tonics and the famous Tongkat Ali that's far more useful than just as an aphrodisiac. The tall, thin tree has roots and bark that have anti-malarial properties. 

The smell of rotting palm fruit hits the nostrils upon entering the Palm Garden. Various species tower above the rest like the popular Traveller's Palm fanning across the lawn. The Sago Palm and Betel Palm have fruits that are commonly eaten but are rarely seen as trees. 

Be sure to wear insect repellent or light cotton long-sleeved shirts, as there are a lot of mosquitoes buzzing around. Sometimes, small animals like monitor lizards can be spotted ambling across the path or geckos seen sunning themselves on tree stumps. The place is constantly alive with tweets and chirps from the many woodpeckers, kingfishers, orioles and pigeons. 

Nearby is the Shade House with tiny, colourful butterflies fluttering about. Large rocks covered with slippery algae line the banks while trees criss-cross overhead to form a green tunnel. 

The biggest surprise of all is that this tranquil spot is in the middle of the Klang Valley. During a visit here, it is easy to imagine that one is walking in the deep jungle, far from the city. 

A lizard sunning itelf on one of the logs found in the park.

Opening hours 

9am - 4pm (weekdays)9am - 12pm (saturdays)(Guided tours are held every first Saturday of the month.)Closed: Sundays, third Saturday of the month and public holidays.For more infomation call: 03-7967 4690Website: http://rimba.um.edu.myAn admission fee of RM2 for adults and RM1 for children is charged. 

Getting there 

Road 

The Universiti of Malaya campus is a short drive from the centre ofKuala Lumpur and easily accessible via the Federal Highway and JalanUniversiti, or via Jalan Pantai Baru. 

LRT 

Visitors travelling by the Putra LRT should get down at Universiti station.From the station, there are feeder buses direct to the campus.

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