Meet the Trees of Bali – A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees

Meet the Trees of Bali – A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees

When you find yourself on the island of Gods, you might wonder why the Gods decided to settle on this patch of land, floating in a ring of fire. When you observe the mighty and beautiful natural bounty of Bali, the reason starts to become clearer. From the swaying fronds of the coconut trees to the ancient aerial roots of the Banyan, the thickets of jungly land make this island truly divine. Here are some trees to keep an eye out for! 

Banyan

The Banyan tree is one of the most important trees for the Balinese. With a wide lateral spread and a height of up to 100 feet, this tree has a propensity for endless growth. In its many trunks and hanging roots, there is a powerful ancient energy, which is why you will often find temples built at the base of the tree. Several important ceremonies are conducted under the tree too. The Balinese call it the ‘Waringin’ tree. 

Coconut

Meet the Trees of Bali - A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees
Meet the Trees of Bali - A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees
Meet the Trees of Bali - A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees

The most iconic tree of Bali has to be the coconut. The symbol of every tropical paradise, any vision of Bali is incomplete without the dancing coconut palm at the seaside. The tree has many uses – the young fruit is used for its refreshing water, the trunk for building, the husk for kindling and the leaves for offerings. One of the most spectacular sights is to see young Balinese boys scale to the top of the tree in a matter of minutes to reach the delicious fruit that beckons from the top! 

Lontar Palm

This tree is also known as the fan palm, due to its appearance. The Lontar Palm is from the same family as the coconut, a close cousin to Bali’s most beloved tree. Today, the trunk of the tree is used for construction as it is straight and strong. The leaves are used to make offerings, though in earlier times they were used to make the paper that the Balinese wrote on! 

Cassava

Meet the Trees of Bali - A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees
Meet the Trees of Bali - A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees

Although the cassava tree was native to South America, it is presently more abundant in the tropics. You are unlikely to traverse the length and breadth of Bali without encountering your fair share of cassavas. With the appearance of little papaya trees, cassava is primarily grown for its root, through which tapioca is derived. The leaves are also cooked and eaten. 

Lime

There are two kinds of lime trees to be found in Bali. The small, round, wrinkly type is called ‘lemo’ and is used to add flavour to Balinese dishes due to its powerful taste. The other kind, known as Juwu Lengis, is gentler and more refreshing and is used to make cold drinks on a hot day. 

Jackfruit

Meet the Trees of Bali - A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees
Meet the Trees of Bali - A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees

This large fruit has delighted travellers for decades! Native to India and Malaysia, the tree has found yet another happy home in Bali. It’s giant fruit grows off tall trees and weighs up to 70 lbs. It can be eaten raw or cooked and the Balinese usually cook it into their curries. Due to its uncanny resemblance to chicken, it is a huge hit amongst the vegans of Bali too! 

Breadfruit

Meet the Trees of Bali - A Guide to the Island’s Iconic Trees

This magical fruit belongs to the same family as the jackfruit. Also being large fruit that can weigh up to 10 lbs, it has many uses! The fruit is cooked and eaten, the trunk is used to build canoes, the bark to make tape and the sap to fill in the seams in canoes! 

Kesambi 

This Himalayan-origin tree has travelled a long way to find a home in the savannah and jungles of Indonesia. The years have allowed it to naturalise and Kesambi trees can be found scattered all over Indonesia. Due to its aesthetic appearance, you can often see it planted alongside roads to add a more organic feeling to the route. However, there are several uses for this tree. Its oils are used in the Batik industry, it renders high quality charcoal and the young fruit is pickled and eaten. 

Intaran

Known as the neem tree in most parts of the world, this tree has a long history of being used in the medicinal realm. Believed to be anthelmintic, antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral and contraceptive, neem is a major component in Ayurvedic medicine. In several parts of Bali, the Intaran tree offers a natural alternative to pesticides and absorbs heaps of carbon dioxide, making it a hugely respected tree. They also call it the ‘miracle tree’.

FAQ

Why is the Banyan tree considered significant in Bali? 

The Banyan tree, or the ‘Waringin’ tree as the Balinese call it, holds deep cultural and spiritual significance. It often has temples built at its base and is a venue for several important ceremonies, attributed to its powerful ancient energy.

What are the uses of the Coconut tree in Bali?

The Coconut tree, an iconic symbol of Bali, is versatile in its uses. The young fruit provides refreshing water, its trunk is utilized for construction, the husk acts as kindling, and its leaves are fashioned into offerings.

What was the original purpose of the Lontar Palm’s leaves?

In earlier times, the leaves of the Lontar Palm were used to make the paper that the Balinese wrote on.

Where is the Cassava tree originally from?

The Cassava tree is native to South America but is now abundantly found in tropical regions, including Bali.

How do the two types of lime trees in Bali differ in usage?

Bali has two types of lime trees. The ‘lemo’ variety, which is small and wrinkly, is used for its intense flavor in dishes. The gentler ‘Juwu Lengis’ variety is preferred for preparing cold beverages.

What makes the Jackfruit popular among vegans in Bali?

The Jackfruit, when cooked, resembles the texture and flavor of chicken, making it a favorite substitute for meat in various dishes among vegans in Bali.

Why is the Kesambi tree commonly planted alongside roads?

The Kesambi tree, originating from the Himalayas, adds an organic and aesthetic touch to the surroundings, making it a popular choice for roadside planting.

What are the medicinal properties attributed to the Intaran tree?

The Intaran tree, globally known as the neem tree, is believed to possess multiple medicinal qualities like being antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antidiabetic, anthelmintic, and even contraceptive. Its significant role in Ayurvedic medicine has earned it the title of the ‘miracle tree’.

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