Top 10 Exotic Flowers Native to Malaysia


Updated: 10 Jul 2024

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Malaysia is home to its rich and diverse culture, diverse population, and seriously good food. And Malaysia is a paradise for plant lovers too, did you know that? Over 15,000 species of flowers, plants, and trees, making it one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, are found in Malaysia. The majority of them are to be found in the natural parts of the city from the garden of hang-out spots to the oldest forest which dates back to 130 million years old in Borneo, the state situated in North Malaysia.

The existence of these plants in rainforests not only increases the beauty of these regions but also provides various plants that are classified under the category of unusual and rare plants, which people have yet to know about. The plenitude of different plants creates an environment that is very vibrant and exciting and it is just as colorful as Malaysia is.

Discover the wonder of Malaysian plants along with us. Our land sprouts the most striking plants including unheard-of flowers to rare trees that you most likely won’t see elsewhere. Bask in Malaysia’s flora, which is a unique jewel of the island.

  1. Hibiscus (Bunga Raya): Malaysia’s National Flower

The humble Hibiscus also called Bunga Raya, one of the locals in Malaysia is the national flower. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, a pink flower that is not just a one-dimensional decoration but also a symbol of the country’s cultural heritage, is the Latin name for this drawing.

  • A Symphony of Colors and Cultural Significance

Hibiscus is famous for its large, horn-shaped flowers that it attracts with a variety of colors, from a light brown to a deep red and sparking pink. These flower shapes are not just staged for showmanship. Moreover, they share an important place in Malaysian traditional customs and feasts. Hibiscus blossoms are often turned into traditional decorations, symbolizing joy and letting go of sadness.

Besides the great physical beauty, Hibiscus is also a peaceful lover for people of all ages, being a perennial plant that blooms and looks nice around the year.

One more thing to love about Hibiscus is its nutritional properties. It is regarded as a common edible Asian flower. The petals are boiled to make herbal teas and infusions, which provide natural treatment known as the panacea in Malaysia’s life for centuries.

  1. Orchids (Orchidaceae Family)

Malaysia’s people cherish orchids, they love them very much, and Malaysia is home to a considerable quantity of these mysterious plants. In the barely penetrated rainforests of the peninsula, where over 800 species of orchids are found, they are the predominant flora, while the mountainous areas of Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo boast the roof 1,500 species. Such an incredible variety of orchids made them a paradise for orchid enthusiasts in Malaysia, and Malaysia’s name is among the world’s elite when it comes to orchid diversity.

Orchids such as Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis, however, are the most attractive and diverse in their forms. Even though these species are abundant in the wild but are also favorites in gardens and floral arrangements because of their lovely aesthetic and the ease with which they can be grown. The splendid design of their flowers and surprisingly long flowering period make them the gardeners’ and the florist’s primary choice of decorative materials out of all the above-mentioned.

  • Visual Splendor and Cultivation Ease

Orchids have a prominent place in the floral world, being famous for their charm, the different kinds of colors, and the forms they come in. They are simply spectacular to look at with the road orange-orchid purple and the elegant ensemble made by free Malaysians. One more characteristic that they barely provide adds to their attraction a more considerable impression to both the beginner and the seasoned craftsmen as well.

  • Economic and Aesthetic Value

The vanilla orchid species is a diverse race that is recognized, for example, among others as a good-looking plant, and at the same time it is considered to be able to fulfill, that is, it can fulfill not only our esthetic demand but also feed, clothe and entertain us. The vanilla orchid is perceived as the most relevant economically, both for the primary and secondary priority based on the number of exports of the orchids to be used for the production of vanilla essence, which is the second most exclusive spice sold after the saffron in the world. Moreover, the aspect that orchids are suitable for cultivation is pivotal in the world, and it is city flowers that are seemingly useful also in agricultural zoning if the streets are turned with flowers as they stand.

Orchids are a fundamental element of the culture and tradition of the Malaysians as they are used as gifts and for celebrations. No matter if it is a designer bouquet of orchids and lilies for a special event or a showy plant like the Jodie Phalaenopsis orchid which is available in different stalk alternatives, these versatile orchids can increase the overall elegance and attraction of the venue as they are capable to fit in every setting.

To start with, orchids are not simply beautiful flowers in Malaysia; they are the living proof of the country’s amazing biodiversity and a surprising constituent of its cultural and economic tapestry. Through their fabulous variety and simplicity of their cultivation process, orchids still keep their allure and remain the pride of all of Malaysia.

  1. Rafflesia: The World’s Largest and Most Unique Flower

The Rafflesia, which is an absolute wonder of the botanical kingdoms, is famous for its capability to create the largest single flower on Earth. As some types, such as Rafflesia arnoldii, can get to 3 feet (1 meter) in diameter, the immense blossoming of this plant not only leaves us marveling at its size but also the twist of the characteristics it possesses. 

  • A Giant Among Flowers

This truly great element of nature has a worth according to the size of 3 feet, and therefore, is the biggest separately flowering plant on the globe. The bright red, often speckled with white, stunning petals, along with the usually dark green foliage with this flower is located, form truly breathtaking scenes. Rather than its splendid qualities, the Rafflesia is more commonly referred to as a rotten fruit with a more derogatory name—”the ‘Stinking Corpse Lily.'” The stench of the flower, is a unique and very strong one, like a rotting carcass.

  • A Parasitic Masterpiece

The Rafflesia is not only interesting due to its massive and foul smell but also due to its life form which is unlike any other. In case normal plants are concerned, it is not a vegetation that has distinct leaves, stems, roots, etc. The only thing you can see in this case is Rafflesia, which is a parasitic plant. Indeed, it lives hanging on to a host plant that is usually a vine representing the Tetrastigma genus from where it gets necessary nutrients. This parasitic characteristic raises the Rafflesia as a fascinating topic for experts in botany and plant lovers as well.

  • An Icon of Biodiversity

Rafflesia, mainly being observed in Southeast Asian rainforests specifically on the bottom foot of mountains in Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak, stands as a wonderful representation of the diversity of the regions. The restrictions inherent in its rarity and the right circumstances that it flourishes in lead to the fact that it is so boasted thus making it the ultimate find for those who brave these luxurious sites.

There is, however, the rancid odor that assists in getting several pollinating insects to the Rafflesia to carry on the continuation of the plant but the Rafflesia is more than just that, it is an attracting cause of wonder. It is a flag showing the odd and the unusual and at the same time pointing at the tremendous variety of life on our planet.

  1. Bamboo Orchid (Arundina graminifolia)

The Bamboo Orchid enjoys the distinction of being a truly graceful plant characterized by its tall, slender reed-type stems and dainty flowers of the colors lavender through white. Its name is quite fitting for its likeness to impeccable bamboo sticks crowned with the most splendid flowers. Growing more in the open grassy spaces and roadside vegetation of Malaysia, the Bamboo Orchid not only compels to be noticed due to its great beauty but also for its resistance to severe weather conditions. 

Generally, the existence of these terrestrial orchids in green nature is great in the form of a circle. Their strong SCAD rod and strong H frame maintain the ground in a particle, thus it’s their utmost duty to conserve soils by erosion prevention. This hardy species of plant has the capability of surviving in a multitude of situations, bringing in a great sum to the health and sustainability of the community. The Bamboo Orchid is more than a mere sight for sore eyes; it is the perfect balance of elegance and function in the environment.

  1. Ixora (Jejarum)

The Ixora, also called Jejarum in Malaysia, is a fantastic type of garden bush. It is popular because of its needle-like branches, which are covered with many little tinkerbell-shaped flowers. It is a plant that attracts people to it with its brightly colored flowers in the shades of red, orange, pink, and yellow and it’s the most common plant in Malaysian gardens and landscapes. They can bloom almost all year long and have the effect of looking fresh and lovely just like ice in the snow.

The word Ixora or Jejarum is derived from “Needle Flower”. This name might be a reminder of your childhood, pulling out the needle-shaped buds and tasting their sweet nectar or making them a part of colorful necklaces and bracelets. The plant flourishes in the sun-kissed regions, therefore, it is commonly found in both private and public gardens. Its non-stop, cheerful display of bright red, pink, and orange flowers adorns many outdoor spaces, making it a beloved presence in numerous communities.

  1. Bougainvillea

In Malaysia, the decorative Bougainvillea tropical plants have been used to landscape the country and have enhanced the beauty of the natural environment. As a plant that did not originally belong to this specific area, it is the versatility and the eye-catching appearance of the Bougainvillea that have helped it to flourish. This plant with its relentless display of purple, magenta, and bright yellow bracts over white flowers that are wrapped around young stems, Bougainvillea is retouched to spruce up the urban and rural gardens. It displays prodigious familiarity with water deprivation and a mighty constitution that is a favorite all over the country.

Known as Ipoh’s official flower, it is known as Bougainvillea and is loved for its convenience in tropical climates. It ends up in a warm and humid environment, decorating gardens, chalets, and public spaces with hanging vines and bright flowers. From being an ornamental vine or shrub to adding some spice to pergolas, patios, and balconies, Bougainvillea is just an explosion of creativity. Visible in Malaysia’s landscapes from apartment buildings to hospitals is the indication of how loved the locals are towards this plant.

Right from trellises to containers to even bon-gai arrangements, Bougainvillea likes to show off its survival qualities and the beauty that it possesses and because of these, it is still pleasing a lot of people in Malaysia. In the bustle of urban life and peaceful places, its vibrating tones and flexibility keep it actor among the plant icons in urban backyards and green spaces, reflecting a happier and more relaxed version of tropical Malaysia.

  1. Sabah Highlands Pitcher Plant

The Sabah Highlands Pitcher Plant shows an odd vitality in Borneo’s misty highlands. These plants are amazingly attractive due to their standout looks let alone time-eating yet these are the predators as well. Their mug-like leaves are not for nothing, they prevent small insects from suffocating each other.

Thriving amidst the barren and barren earth, the varieties have developed a preference for killing bugs by eating them when they are caught. This adaptation not only keeps them alive but also plays an important ecological role. By solely eliminating virtually all insect populations, the pitcher plants from the Sabah Highlands act as the main driving force behind the preservation of their local ecosystem’s fine-tuned equilibrium. They are living proof of nature’s ability, depicting the phenomenon of plants being both predators and vital parts of their habitats.

  1. Pagoda Flower (Clerodendrum paniculatum)

Clerodendrum paniculatum, known as Pagoda Flower, is a special flower that is commonly found in Malaysia. It is the most popular with clusters of colorful (red, orange, and white) blooms that can be as high as 5-6 feet. With its flowers ranging in bright red, orange, and white colors, this plant grew in popularity among gardeners for having a nice appearance in the gardens. Apart from its beauty, however, the plant is also linked to traditional Malay weddings where it symbolizes wealth and happiness.

“Panggil-Panggil” known locally, as the Malay word for “to summon” has a cultural value that goes beyond the beauty of the flower. The legend has it that hunters used to catch mouse deer with these flowers, naming it so. Notably, some Malaysians and Indonesians also claim its supernatural power for casting spells, adding a mysterious aspect to its charm.

Well-known for its durable blossoms and easy growth, the Pagoda Flower will always find its place in the ornamental gardens. Its vibrant clusters and strong cultural identification make it a treasured symbol of happiness and spiritual bonding that exists in Malay traditions, decorating both landscapes and public events.

  1. Yellow Allamanda

The yellow Allamanda, which was initially found in South and Central America, spread to the various tropical zones of the globe and today is admired as a shrub, by climbers, or even for the decorative purposes of house flora in Malaysia. One of the most colorful members of the Apocynaceae, the Yellow Allamanda is also called Yellow Bell, Golden Trumpet, or Buttercup Flowers.

In Malaysia, the indigenous people use the terms “Akar Kuning” or “Akar Cempaka Hutan” in Bahasa. Curiously, in the Chinese language, they are known as “ruan zhi huang chan,” which stands for their unopened buds that look like soft-stemmed yellow cicadas because the yellow cicadas’ shape and color are similar to the closed buds of a canthium. This funny association between the flowers and the insect highlights the flower’s special properties and regional cultural bond.

  1. Parrot’s Beak (Lotus berthelotii)

The Parrot’s Beak, scientifically known as Lotus berthelotii, it’s quite an interesting one. The Parrot’s Beak (Lotus berthelotii) is just amazing with its perfectly matching flower shape to a parrot’s beak, so I would say it’s the most unique one. As far as looking different is concerned, this captivating feature does it. Besides that, this particular trait and its communication place in the process of natural selection serve as the basis of competitive success.

Gardeners and collectors love the different shades of orange and red this plant presents. The bright and colorful flowers bring life to the smallest garden, and therefore the Parrot’s Beak guarantees that it will be the main attraction in display windows. In addition to its odd shape and bright colors, it also is noticeable and is often referred to as a bloom of love by fans of flowers the world over.

Conclusion

The constant richness of Malaysia’s plant species, including both the considerable Rafflesia and the complex orchid, is a testimony to not only its natural beauty but also its underlying ecological and cultural significance. In other words, these perfect flowers are not only display objects but also are an inalienable part of Malaysia’s cultural wealth.

The role of naturalists is very vital to safeguard the unique species of the planet. Being displaced by human-caused environmental disruptions and the ever-looming climate change, these flowers would only do well if they were given the extra care they need. Also, this would in turn ensure that Malaysia’s floral heritage is preserved for our future offspring to admire and be positively influenced by their aesthetic, and ecological roles.

A flower is no more a vibrant sight alone, but the conservation of the intact natural legacy of Malaysia. Through the preservation and protection of this treasure, we are building the legacy of biodiversity and the natural richness of the culture, which will be visited and cherished by the coming intellectual and spiritual generations.

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M Muzamil

M Muzamil

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