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~Plant a seed of friendship; reap a bouquet of happiness~
~Lois L. Kaufman~


Malaysian flowers are spectacular and colourful. It is estimated that there are at least 20,000 species of flowering plants, the majority of which can be found growing on the rich soils of Sabah and Sarawak.

 Rafflesia arnoldii - is the largest, solitary, fleshy flower in the world. It is a parasitic plant that grows on the lower slopes of mountain ranges, in certain areas of South-east Asia. (Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo)
The first Europeans to discover the Rafflesia were Sir Stamford Raffles (founder of Singapore) and Dr Joseph Arnold in 1816, near the town of Bencoolen (Bengkulu) in Sumatra and this particular species was named Rafflesia arnoldii in their honour.
Besides being the world's largest bloom, it is a very strange and baffling plant. Belonging to the family Rafflesiaceae together with Mitrastemonaceae and Hydnoraceae, they constitute the order Rafflesiales. The Rafflesia has no specific flowering season. It has no roots, stem or leaves. In addition, each flower produces just one seed and this seed can only germinate if it succeeds in lodging itself in the tissue of the Tetrastigma vine, which crawls along the rainforest floors. This is why the Rafflesia is usually floor bound. The flower extracts food from the vine by extending threadlike filaments into its tissue. Its penchant for attaching exclusively to the Tetrastigma partly explains why the flower is very rare.
After taking approximately 9 months to mature into a cabbage-sized bud, the plant opens. The petals, usually 5, sometimes 6, are red in colour and covered with lighter coloured spots. When in full bloom the flower emits a foul odour which attracts flies and other insects. It only flowers for 5 to 6 days, before the petals blacken and the flower withers. The flowers are either male or female. Pollen is most likely transferred from one plant to another by flies, whilst scientists believe that the small mammals that eat the fruit of the plant transfer the seeds (via their droppings, claws and facial hair) to other host sites around the forest floor. Although the Rafflesia can grow up to one metre in diameter, the flowers are usually half that size with the occasional monster-sized bloom appearing from time to time. The record bloom of Rafflesia arnoldii that made its way into the Guiness Book of Records, stretched 91cms (3 ft) in diameter, 1.9 cms (3/4 ins) thick and weighed 7 kgs (15 lbs).

flower Hibiscus
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis or Bunga Raya - Originated in China and the Pacific islands, but is found throughout the tropics all over the world. Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia and the State flower of Hawaii. It is known as the ~Queen of Tropical Flowers~ as it is said to signify peace and bravery.
The genus hibiscus belongs to the cotton family Malvaceae. The plant grows throughout the country and seems to thrive without much attention. It is a hardy plant with few problems and flowers all the year round. The flower's delicate petals are light and fine and vary in colour from light pink to a deep red. Hibiscus flowers open in the morning and begin to wilt by the afternoon. Although they last only for a day or two, new buds always burst open the next day so that the plant is always flowering.
The Hibiscus, is used for medicine and cosmetics, for dyeing the hair and eyebrows. It is also known as the ~Shoe Flower~....the petals can be used for polishing shoes. Hibiscus wine is super...

flower Ixora
I. Javanica or Jejarum - This is one of the best known garden shrubs in Malaysia. It loves the sun. In the local language ~Jejarum~ means ~Needle flower~ because the buds look like needles. Kids like to suck the nectar from the flowers which are very sweet.
Originating in the Asia-Pacific, it blooms all year round and comes in a variety of colors the most common being bright red. Ixoras make good hedges.

flower Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea spectabilis or Bunga Kertas - A native of South America, the bougainvillea has made its home in Malaysia, famous as an ornamental garden plant and for landscaping purposes. The flower was named after a French sea captain, Louis Antoine de Bougainvillea. The Malaysians call it ~Bunga Kekwa~ or ~Bunga Kertas~ meaning ~paper flower~.
There are over 250 species of bougainvilleas. It blooms throughout the year and the flowers come in many different colours. Though the actual white-yellow flower in itself is small, it is the layer of bracts that makes it attractive.

flower Yellow Allamanda
Allamanda cathartica L. or Akar Chempaka Hutan - The name Allamanda comes from Dr. F. Allamanda, a professor of natural history in Leyden in the latter part of the 18th Century. It is a common shrub which flowers all year round. A native of tropical America, it is now widely found throughout the tropics because of its attractive flowers. The common names are Yellow Allamanda, Common Allamanda and Golden-Trumpet. The Malaysian names are Bunga Akar Kuning and Akar Chempaka Hutan.
This is a woody scrambling shrub with oblong leaves which are arranged in opposite pairs along the stem. Flowers are wax-like yellow in color and funnel-shaped. The plant has a milky sap which oozes out as soon as any parts are broken. Propagation is by stem cuttings.

flower Orchid
A plant recognised almost any where in the country is the orchid. Malaysia is home to 108 genera of the family Orchidaceae, comprising over 800 species. The name orchid originates from the Greek ~orchis~ meaning ~testicle.~ Orchids are divided into three categories, namely climbing, epiphytic and terrestrial. The wild species include the pigeon orchid and the tiger or giant orchid which grows on the crown of larger trees. Its flowers are a dull yellow with brownish orange markings.
Orchids are parasites in nature as they grow on wild trees and dead trees.
The world's largest orchid can grow to 20m long The orchid Vanda Miss Joaquim was first discovered in the garden of Miss Agnes Joaquim in 1893 and registered in the same year.

flower Fuchsia
Fuchsia is named after Loenhart Fuchs, 16th century German physician and botanist. Fuchsia belongs to the group of flowering shrubs famous for their pendulous bell-like flowers, usually in two contrasting colours. They are a common sight in Malaysia.

flower Angsana
Angsana is a large, deciduous tree which can grow to height of 10 m. It has a dome-shaped crown, flowers seasonally and grows rapidly from woody cuttings.
It is quick growing and provides good shade when mature. The flowers are small, yellow and fragrant. Angsana wood is suitable for making furniture.

flower Bachelors Button
A native of tropical America, bachelors button has made its home in Malaysia. A herbal species, these flowers can grow to between 30 to 50 cm tall with leaves measuring between 6 to 10 cm long and 2 to 3 cm wide. The deep purplish flowers which grow in a cluster are attractive when planted in rows.

flower Frangipani or Bunga Kubur
In Malaysia, the frangipani trees are mostly planted in graveyards and so is called ~Bunga Kubur~ or ~Graveyard Flower~ among the locals. The tree is robust growing, often branched and partly deciduous at different times of the year. It can grow to a height of 6 to 10 m . Flowers are large and fragrant and come in a variety of colour though the most common are the white with yellow centres.

flower Lobster Claws 
Heliconia humilis - Belongs to the family Heliconiaceae. It is commonly known as ~Sepit Ketam~ in the local dialect because of its close resembalance to lobster claws. It originated from Peru. The flowers bloom before onset of rain and look like red crab-like brachea with yellow tips covering small white flowers.

flower Lantana
Lantana Camara or Bunga Tahi Ayam - A native of America, this herbaceous shrub like plant, has made a home in Malaysia. The flowers are in a cluster, shaped like an umbrella. They come in various colors though the orange and yellow are the most popular. The plant's hairy thorny stems and rough leaves have a strong and sharp aroma that is almost pungent. It is known as ~Bbunga Tahi Ayam~ by the locals meaning ~chicken's droppings~. Yellow Sage Verbenaceae

flower Touch-me-not
Mimosa pudica or Semalu - This prickly, spreading undershrub with bristly stems, is a wild plant and a nuisance. A native of tropical America, it is a troublesome weed because of its thorns. It has pink flowers, slender stalks. The fascinating character of the plant is its sensitive leaves which fold together and droop when touched. The locals call the plant ~malu-malu~ meaning ~shy~.

flower Bird of Paradise
Bird of Paradise is another common Malaysian flower. Strelitzia as it is also called, is named after actual birds-of-paradise, which are the most beautiful birds in the world, with brightly coloured plumage and fanlike tails.

flower Saga
This native tree, from which Malaysia's national car derives its name, is well-known for its bright scarlet seed. The seeds known as ~Circassian Beans~ are used for making necklaces. Children use the seeds for playing.
The seeds were once used as measures of weight for gold. Saga is also known as Red Sandalwood, Saga, and Suga.
Its flowers are small and inconspicuous and its leaves turn yellow once a year. The leaves are shed during the dry season. It is a fast-growing ornamental tree and lives to over 60 years.

flower Rhododendrons 
Vireya rhododendrons - were discovered in the South Pacific in 1843. Specimens were taken to England by plant fanciers who treated them as hot-house flowers until wartime and economic hardship made pampering tropical rhododendrons a luxury few could afford.
The original name of the Rhododendron is the ~Japanese Azalia~. The flower originated in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, especially the Himalayas. It grows wild in many parts of the world. The flower grows as far North as Nova Scotia but is most abundant in the Appalachians and down into Georgia and Alabama. Of several hundred species, about 30 are found in North America.
Rhododendron is an odorless, funnel-shaped or bell shaped evergreen flower. The leaves of this beautiful flower are poisonious.

flower Rose
Rosa rugosa, R. centifolia, R. multiflora The universal flower of love, roses need no discription... they grow in the Cameron Highlands in West Malaysia and in Ranau and Kundasan in East Malaysia, because of the cool climate there.
The name is derived from the Latin rosa and the Creek rhodon. The rose is a symbol of love.

mum flower Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum is native to the northern hemisphere chiefly Europe and Asia. Many people claim that it orgicated in China.
In Malaysia chrysanthemim Morifolium, colloquially known as ~mum~ is grown in Cameron Highlands, Pahang.
Chrysanthemum belongs to the family compositae. The Chrysanthemum morifulium plants are perennial. The stem is soft and fragile and the young leaves have a strong smell. The flowers are usually large with attractive colours.



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Wednesday, January 14, 1998

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