Saving the Rainforest: The Botanical Ark

Just before the tasting

(Reis) In the Daintree rainforest we are staying at a place called the Botanical Ark. It’s called that because, the hosts, Alan and Suzi Carle (with their friend Philippe), are taking seedlings from rainforests all over the world and then planting them in one spot to make a rainforest. Their primary message is about conservation — of green plants, animals and native and original people.

One of the things we learned there is that globally we are losing 50-75 species, not yearly or monthly, but daily. And 2 languages every week are disintegrating. It’s terrible. So Alan and Suzi’s goal is to gather many of the wet, tropical rainforest species together, so that even if all the rainforests get deforested, they’ll still have a small haven. They also use the haven to show/teach people not to deforest the rainforests. They do that by showing them how many useful plants there are. Ethno-botany is the study of plants’ usefulness to humans. For instance, there are 1,500 different species of ginger, and 1/3 of those are useful to humans. That’s 500 species of just ginger! They hope to show countries that it is more economical to keep the rainforests and use the plants in them instead of just cutting them down and getting money for the timber just once.

Alan and Suzi also have the guests experience the rainforest fruits that they grow. We were lucky enough to enjoy a tasting. We tried so many different fruits including:

  • Abiu, South America
  • Solak, spiny palm from Sumatra
  • Longens, like a lychee nut from South China/Thailand/Vietnam
  • Dragonfruit or Pitaya, South/Central America
  • Rollinia, custardy fruit, Amazon
  • Custus, Alan’s own ginger flower

They were so good! But the most fun part of the tasting was the Miracle Fruit. The Miracle fruit is from Nigeria. It has an awesome power to turn anything sour into incredibly sweet. To simulate how it works, imagine your tongue as the ridges of a key, you eat the miracle fruit, and it glazes over the sour receptor ridges, to make everything sweet. It’s quite amazing!

We had an amazing experience at The Botanical Ark and I wish I could go there again.

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4 Responses to “Saving the Rainforest: The Botanical Ark”

  1. Reis and Andrew – what’s the deal with the hairdo? Playing the stock market – one short, one long? 😉

  2. DELICIOUS! and what a cool project the Carles are working on in the face of declining rainforests and species loss worldwide. Thanks for sharing their message, Reis. The miracle fruit sounds incredible! It’s the kryptonite of Sour Patch Kids…

  3. YUM YUM…please, a takeout order for some miracle fruit sent to PA.(just kidding). Can the miracle fruit also knock off ten years of age? Keep up the great writing!!!!!!
    xoxo bibi

  4. G’day Reis, I am pleased you picked up on the message at Botanical Ark, as you say Alan and Suzi are rainforest saviours.It is a pity many more people who share their philosophy are not more proactive. I hope you are enjoying The Island of the Gods -Bali Bagus. See you back in Australia in May- safe travels and keep up the great dialogue.