In the spirit of Malaysia Day, let’s appreciate our unique flora and fauna by learning about them, and visiting them when possible! Did you know that Malaysia is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world?
Geographically, two-thirds of our land is covered in forest, and is home to about 20% of the world’s animal species, some 15,000 species of vascular plants, 2,000 tree species, as well as 3,000 species of orchids alone, with more to be discovered! While we couldn’t possibly list them all, let’s get to know six of Malaysia’s flora and fauna. Make way for more ‘did you know’ questions!
Malaysia’s national flower is the Hibiscus rosa-sinesis, or in the Malay language, known as Bunga Raya, or directly translated to celebratory flower (bunga = flower, raya = celebratory). Its five petals signify our five National Principles or Rukun Negara. Its colours, on the other hand, represents the vibrant spirit and courage of fellow Malaysians. It is also featured in every Malaysian Ringgit banknote and coin!
Get up close:
Take a stroll around the Hibiscus Garden at Kuala Lumpur’s Perdana Botanical Garden
Another pride of the nation is the famous parasitic plant, Rafflesia (double-check your 10 Malaysian Ringgit banknote!). Holding the largest flower bloom in the world, the Rafflesia species can grow more than 1 metre in diameter, or about the size of a coffee table. Witnessing this surreal, giant flower comes at a price: it gives off the smell of rotting flesh (it looks like it, too). Rafflesia keithii, one of the species of the genus Rafflesia, is native or endemic to Sabah.
Get up close:
Learn all about Rafflesia at Tambunan Rafflesia Information Centre, Sabah, or visit Perak’s Royal Belum State Park or Sarawak’s Gunung Gading National Park for a chance to witness its presence.
P.S. Recently, a new species of Rafflesia was found in the forests of Pulau Tioman, Pahang!
Orchids are one of the largest family of flowering plants, with over 28,000 known species worldwide. In Malaysia alone, we are home to more than 3,000 species, with more than 1,000 found in Peninsular Malaysia alone. Did you know that the second-most expensive spice in the world, vanilla, originates from an orchid? At Amani Vanilla, Temerloh, Pahang, you can walk through their mini vanilla orchid farm and taste their very own produce at their own café, offering many vanilla-based delicacies.
Get up close:
Feast on fresh, homemade vanilla-based delicacies at Amani Vanilla
We are indeed blessed with such biodiversity from the land that we call home. Let’s all play our part in preserving their habitats. We hope that this humble list has increased your spirits in preparation for Malaysia Day!