Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, known colloquially as rose mallow, Chinese hibiscus, China rose and shoe flower, is a species of flowering plant in the family Malvaceae, native to East Asia. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis was named by Carolus Linnaeus. The Latin term rosa-sinensis literally means “rose of China”, though it is not closely related to the true roses.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia, called Bunga Raya in Malay. Introduced into the Malay Peninsula in the 12th century, it was nominated as the national flower in the year 1958 by the Ministry of Agriculture amongst a few other flowers, namely ylang ylang, jasmine, lotus, rose, magnolia, and medlar. On 28 July 1960, it was declared by the government of Malaysia that the hibiscus would be the national flower.
The word bunga in Malay means “flower”, while raya in Malay means “big” or “grand”. The hibiscus is literally known as the “big flower” in Malay. The red of the petals symbolizes the courage, life, and rapid growth of the Malaysian, and the five petals represent the five Rukun Negara of Malaysia. The flower can be found imprinted on the notes and coins of the Malaysian ringgit.