Wandering around many gardens and public parks in Malaysia, you may have come across the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, otherwise known as the Bunga Raya!
Introduced into the Malay Peninsula in the 12th century as an ornamental plant, the Bunga Raya was nominated as the national flower along with other flowers such as ylang-ylang and jasmine, lotus, rose, magnolia, and medlar in 1958 by the Ministry of Agriculture. However, on 28 July 1960, it was officially declared by the Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj as the national flower.
Here are some more interesting facts you may not know about the Bunga Raya:-
- Bunga in Bahasa Malaysia means “flower,” while Raya means “celebratory” or “grand” and reflects the celebration of unity in the multicultural nation of Malaysia.
- The red color of the petals symbolizes the courage, life, and rapid growth of the Malaysian people, while the five petals represent the Rukun Negara, the five national principles of unity which are: belief in God, loyalty to the King and country, the supremacy of the Constitution, rules of law, courtesy, and morality.
- The flower can be found imprinted on the notes and coins of the Malaysian currency.
- The hibiscus is a small tree with an evergreen shrub, glossy single stem leaves that can grow up to 2.5 meters tall. The hibiscus plant has several hundreds of species with flowers found in colors ranging from red, white, pink, purple, and yellow!
- The hibiscus flower is also known as Chinese hibiscus, China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow, shoeblack plant and belongs to the Hibiscus genus and Malvaceae family.
- The flower can be made into a tea to help reduce high blood pressure and is commonly used to treat hair loss, while its roots are used as an aperitif and tonic to remedy excessive coughing and head lice!
- Recent studies have found that hibiscus may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and are a great weight-loss aid.
- They can be used as an alternative to shoe polish by rubbing the petals against leather shoes.
So next time you come across the Bunga Raya in gardens or along the street, apart from admiring its beautiful shape and delightful scent, you can also appreciate its cultural significance and importance of celebrating unity in Malaysia’s history!
Image courtesy of leftovercurrency.com and dreamstime.com