Indische Groenten is a book in the Dutch language. Book with 1005 pages contains information about vegetable plants in Indonesia in the 1920s. This book is one of the important references for studying the history of plant benefits in Indonesia. We can found many pieces of information related to the vegetables, ethnobotany, recipe, and culture in Indonesia

The Book Is Rare

Nowadays, books are rare in quantity. From some information, several copies still available at some institutes in the Netherlands. In Indonesia itself, this book is still available in, the Netherlands embassy, ​​the national library, Bogor Agriculture Institute, Indonesian institute of science, West Java provincial government. The rest, this book is available in the collector’s house.

Vegetable Plants In Indonesia
Indische Groenten Second Edition 1931

Indische Groenten’s book was published in 1931. This book is the second edition after previously being published in 1925. The second edition was a refinement of the previous edition. Ochse mentions that the second edition book has more complete because it was collective work with a botanist named R. C. Bakhuizen van den Brink, who gave a lot of input on the detailed information. Besides, it also involves many botanists and illustrators.  Ochse also mentioned that the second edition book could also represent information on vegetables in tropical Southeast Asia.

Botanist’s Work

Several names of botanists that contribute to the completion of this book are are Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh, C. A. Backer, S. H. Koorders, J. J. Smith, Th. Valeton, Hasskarl, Filet, De Clercq, Heyne. Several people helped Ochse to prepare illustrations, including Dechet and several Indonesian illustrators at the time, namely Soeparno, Kardjono, and Noerhaman. The team that compiled this book prepared samples of native plants as models when making illustrations. They did almost all of the compilation of these books and illustrations in Buitenzorg (Bogor).

Book Contents

Ochse arranged the names of the existing plants alphabetically according to their families. Then Ochse rearranged the plants one by one in one family based on alphabetical order. In each species description, also include the names in Dutch, Malay, Javanese, Sundanese, and Madurese. Then there is a detailed description of each species.

An interesting fact about this book is that all recorded species contain very detailed information ranging from natural habitats, the altitude where they grow above sea level, how to cultivate these species, or information that these species grow wild. The description then continues to describe the plants or parts consumed by the population. In the description, there is also a description of local names also, the information of useful parts.

Ochse said that one of the challenges in the preparation of this book is the diversity of regional names of the same species. Or even several species but have the same area name. Besides that, another challenge is the process of collecting specimens from various regions. Not to mention the information about the parts consumed and the types of preparations thereof.

The Fortune of Indonesia

Oche also mentioned interesting things about Indonesia at that time. The Indonesian people were very fortunate because they had excess food sources and the common lifestyle at that time was “rice – salt – vegetables – fish”. Maybe Ochse meant to convey that the diet of the Indonesian people at that time could not be separated from vegetables in their daily lives. Ochse also mentioned other functions of these vegetable plants in terms of health benefits as medicinal plants.

Some remarks

Does Not Represent Indonesia

Although Ochse mentioned that the book contains information about vegetable plants in Indonesia, however, this book only focuses on the tradition of the people in Java and Madura. In fact, this contradicts Ochse’s statement in the book title and editor.

Not All Plants Are Vegetables

In this book, Ochse also includes several herbs and spices. Examples are several species from the family Discorea then several species from the Zingiberaceae family. In general, the use of Dioscorea is an alternative food substitute for rice. Meanwhile, Indonesian people use Zingiberaceae as a spice. And until now, this Family is still in the category of spices, not vegetables.

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses


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