Malaysia has around 15,000 species of vascular plants making it one of the countries with the richest plant diversity in the world and yet the flora is still not fully documented. Peninsular Malaysia has about 8300 species while Sabah and Sarawak have 12,000 species. Documenting the flora requires commitment from both local researchers and their collaborators from around the world. The phased approach to document the flora of Malaysia has already begun with two projects namely the Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak and the Flora of Peninsular Malaysia.
The flora of Malaysia was conceptualised as a mean to record the floral diversity, and at the same time provide up-to-date names, precise and comprehensive descriptions, easy-to-use keys, ancillary information such as vernacular names, distribution, ecology, uses as well as ample illustrations to create a documentation that is of interest to a diverse audience of plant researchers, forest managers, students, various plant-related institution stakeholders and amateur naturalist alike.
The Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak, launched in 1991, is the most important modern taxonomic project for the Borneo region. Eight volumes have been published so far. In these volumes, 2235 indigenous tree species from 331 genera in 78 families are included. This figure represents about 64% of the estimated total of 3500 tree species native to Sabah and Sarawak. Of the tree species revised so far, 308 (14%) are taxa new to science, and 1071 (48%) are endemic to Sabah and Sarawak and/or Borneo.
The Flora of Peninsular Malaysia initiated in 2005 and the flora is produced in two series: Series I for ferns and lycophytes and Series II for seed plants. It is published in hard copy with about 100 species per volume. Since 2010, three volumes of Series I have been published with 322 species altogether, representing about half the of the 632 species in Peninsular Malaysia, meanwhile eight volumes of Series II have 934 species altogether, representing about 12% of the 7570 named species.