Hibiscus rosa-sinensis "Brilliant Red" was declared as the National Flower of Malaysia by on 28th July 1960. Our first Prime Minister, YTM Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj selected the hibiscus because it grows abundantly here. It was selected from a total of 7 flowers; namely the hibiscus, ylang-ylang, jasmine, lotus, rose, magnolia and bunga tanjung nominated by the Department of Agriculture in 1958.
The red colour signifies political and economic strength and courage in facing challenges while the 5 petals represents the '5 Prinsip-prinsip Rukun Negara', which is a declaration of our 5 Principles of Nationhood. The many varieties, colour, shapes and sizes of the hibiscus symbolise the different races, religion and multi-cultural background living harmoniously together.
Hibiscus The National Flower of Malaysia”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ http://www.mynicegarden.com/ on June 25, 2009. Pictures has been updated on July 28, 2010.
We can find this evergreen shrub everywhere here in Malaysia, especially in the kampungs and suburban areas. We call it the Bunga Raya in Malay. 'Bunga' means flower while 'Raya' can mean festival, celebration or big and grand.
* During ancient times, people of the Malay Archipelago were fond of using perfumed flowers such as kenaga (canaga odorata), yellow chempaka (Michelia champaca), white chempaka (Michelia alba), bunga tanjong (Minusops elangi), Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) and kesidang (Vallaris glabra). These scented flowers were scattered on banquet tables, worn in the hair of maidens, made into garlands, used to decorate festive archers and to perfume clothing. The hibiscus stayed fresh the whole day even after picking, hence it was used as a decor at weddings and kenduris (feasts).
*Source: Book titled "Tropical Horticulture and Gardening by Dr. Francis SP Ng (Clearwater Publications).
Hibiscus is a native plant of China. The chinese call it 'Ta Hung Hua' meaning 'big red flower'. "Rosa-sinensis" is the Latin name for Chinese Rose.
Long ago, the petals of the hibiscus flowes were used to shine and blacken shoes in the West-Indies, hence the name "Shoe Flower" while in Indonesia, it is called "Kembang Sepatu", also meaning "shoe flower".
The flowers are edible. It can be used in hair care as well. As a kid, my friends had taught me how to eat the flower buds. I tried it and I remember it tasted good. Modern chefs also use it to garnish dishes and in salads.
The hibiscus plant is very easy to grow. You can grow it as a hedge or use it to form a wall around the perimeter of the house. This plant needs a lot of prunning. You don't have to wait long to see the flowers. The bright red flowers last only one day but will be replaced by other new ones. Once it starts to bloom, flowering occurs all year round.
Remembering the 'Bunga Raya'"
- When I was little, I stayed at the government quarters since mum and dad were teachers. The perimeter or our kampung style house with stilts were lined with hibiscus bushes acting as a natural screen.
- In school, the hibiscus flower was one of the first flowers we learnt to draw and label in Science class.
- During child play, we liked to wear the hibiscus flowers on our hair, placing them just above the ears.
Hibiscus flowers attract butterflies to the garden.