Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hibiscus aculeatus

Hibiscus aculeatus | Comfortroot, Pineland Hibiscus, Pinelands Mallow, Rough Rosemallow, Sharp Rosemallow

This U.S. native perennial Hibiscus is one of the lesser known of our native mallows. It is covered with short stiff, white hairs and grows to about 2m high. The leaves are palmately lobed in 3-5 irregularly toothed segments. Bears large flowers, 10cm or more across from June to September. Flowers change in color from cream to yellow, and finally fade to pink. The 5 petals are marked with a purple or crimson spot at the base. Seed capsules are less than 3cm long and resemble small Okra pods.

The roots contain mucilage and have been used medicinally as a soothing agent, hence the common name Comfortroot. Its latin name aculeatus means 'prickly' in reference to the sandpaper-like feel of the stems and leaves. Found naturally in sandy soil; bogs, moist pinelands, savannas, ditches and coastal plains from Florida to Louisiana, north to North Carolina.


Hibiscus arnottianus ssp. arnottianus

Hibiscus arnottianus | White Rosemallow, Kokio Ke'oke'o

Hibiscus arnottianus is one of the hibiscus species native to the Hawaiian Islands. It was used in the development of many of the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis varieties found today, and has produced many horticultural cultivars. It is also used as an understock when grafting hybrids, mainly because it is long-lived, hardy, and resistant to root-rot. A small tree or tall shrub, usually with dense foliage, the flowers have a wonderful fragrance. The blooms last for two days and are produced freely on short spurs from older wood. For this reason Hibiscus arnottianus is best left unpruned; however severe pruning (about halfway) in spring every four to five years is recommended to keep the plant healthy and in a nice form. An open sunny situation is best, with rich well-drained soil. Liberal water and fertilizer should be applied during the summer and fall flowering season.

Three subspecies of Hibiscus arnottianus are recognized:
ssp. arnottianus (photo above) is from O'ahu and has smooth leaves 4-10cm long. It grows at elevations of 390 to 2500 feet in the Wai'anae and eastern Ko'olau mountains of O'ahu.
ssp. immaculatus is native to Moloka'i and has a white staminal column and leaves with rounded teeth. The leaves are 4-10cm long and often have red veins and stems. The faintly fragrant flowers have white petals 8-11cm long. The flowers may be slightly pink or may age to pale pink. Hibiscus arnottianus ssp. immaculatus is found in only in four populations on Moloka'i. It is the rarest of all and is listed as an endangered species.
ssp. punaluuensis, the Punaluu Rosemallow is also native to O'ahu. This is the most common of the three subspecies. Its a robust plant with leaves up to 25cm long and comes from the Ko'olau Mountains at elevations of 650 to 2200 feet.



Historical Reference: But neither the delicate kokio- keokeo (Hibiscus Arnottianus), which is the subject of so many songs and legends, and which, with its white petals and rich pink stamens, used to drape the sides of rocky ravines, nor the red variety with which girls used to adorn their hair, ever had any struggle for existence till the goats came, who have made them both very nearly things of the past.

   All the year round: a weekly journal, Volume 38
   By Charles Dickens,
   Published by Chapman and Hall, 1886


Hibiscus Archeri

 Hibiscus x archeri | Archer's Hibiscus, Aute à Moorea

Hibiscus Archeri is an old hybrid between Hibiscus rosa sinensis and Hibiscus schizopetalus. Named for A.S. Archer, of Antigua in the Antilles, this striking variety is an upright, fast growing shrub, often grown on its own roots. The 10cm red flowers last for a day.



Historical Reference: Hibiscus Archeri.—The blood-crimson flowers of this plant render it a most striking ornament just now in the greenhouse; it would prove undoubtedly so were the blossoms produced with greater freedom. The rich shade of colour and the pretty fringed form of the flowers alike assist in rendering it most attractive. The plant is of sparse habit and rather tall. A coloured plate of it appeared in The Garden of May 6 of the present year.

   The Garden: an illustrated weekly journal of gardening, Volume 56
   by William Robinson, 1899

Historical Reference: Een andere bijzonder krachtig groeiende is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis var. Archeri, een hybride tusschen H. schizopetalus en de gewone kembang sepatoe. De groeiwijze van deze is echter zeer fraai, de plant groeit krachtig hoog op, dan buigen zich de einden der takken waaraan de bloemen komen sierlijk om, deze laatste zijn groot en helderrood, hangen ook aan lange bloemstelen, de bloemblaadj es zijn echter niet diep ingesneden, zooals bij de voorgaande.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Archeri komt het mooiste uit, als zij alleenstaat, krachtig groeiende op een ruim gazon; als dan de bloeiende takken als die van een treurboom naar alle kanten afhangen en de schitterend gekleurde groote bloemen als uit een hoorn des overvloeds komende er overal afhangen is het werkelijk een bijzonder sierlijke en imposante heester. Zooals men weet laten zich de Hibiscussen gemakkelijk oculeeren en daar laatstgenoemde een krachtige groeister is eu zich gemakkelijk laat tjangkokken en stekken, kan zij als onderstam dienen voor de zwak groeiende ver- scheidenheden. Boven noemde ik de mooi bloeiende maar slecht groeiende verscheidenheden van Hibiscus rosa-sinensis liliflorus, waarschijnlijk groeien die beter als zij geënt worden op- laatstgenoemde plant.

Translation: Another particularly vigorous grower is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis var. Archeri, a hybrid between Hibiscus schizopetalus and the ordinary Kembang Sepatu. (Editors Note: in Indonesia hibiscus are called "kembang sepatu", which literally means 'flower of shoes' ―perhaps in reference to the fact that hibiscus flowers were used to shine shoes in places like India) The growth habit is very attractive; the plant grows vigorously high and then at the end of the bending branches are the elegant flowers ―large and bright red, with a long flowering season. The flower petals are not as deeply incised as the previously mentioned (Hibiscus schizopetalus).

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis var. Archeri is more attractive grown alone on a broad lawn; as the flowering branches like that of a weeping tree hang down to all sides, with a cornucopia of beautifully colored flowers, coming from everywhere, hang down. It is really a particularly elegant and impressive shrub. We know that Hibiscus archeri cuttings are easy to root, and it is a strong grower. It can serve as rootstock for the weaker-growing varieties. Above I mentioned the beautiful flowering but poorly growing varieties of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis x liliiflorus, will probably grow better if they are grafted on the latter plant.

   Teysmannia: magazyn van horticultuur en landbouw der tropen
   Published by G. Kolff & Co.,1905


Reference: HYBRIDE. Hibiscus x archeri (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis x schizopetalus) RÉPARTITION: cet hybride a été obtenu dans les Antilles vers la fin du XIXe siècle et a été répandu rapidement dans les régions chaudes, moins abondant que les parents, il est néanmoins présent en Polynésie française avant 1922. — AUSTRALES : Raivavae, Rurutu. – GAMBIER : Mangareva. – MARQUISES : Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Nuku Hiva. – SOCIÉTÉ : Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa,Tahiti. – TUAMOTU : Makatea. –[COOK : Aitutaki, Rarontonga.].
USAGE: ornementale pour le port, le feuillage et les fleurs ; ces dernières souvent portées comme ornement de chevelure. NOM VERNACULAIRE : Aute à Moorea.

Translation: HYBRID. Hibiscus x archeri (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis x schizopetalus). DISTRIBUTION: This hybrid was obtained in the Caribbean in the late nineteenth century and has spread rapidly in warm regions. less abundant than the parents, it is still present in French Polynesia before 1922. USES: Ornamental for appearance, the foliage and flowers, the latter often worn as an ornament of hair. VERNACULAR NAME: Aute à Moorea.

   Flore de la Polynésie française, VOLUME 2
   Publications scientifiques
   MUSÉUM NATIONAL D'HISTOIRE NATURELLE, Paris, 2004


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hibiscus boryanus

Hibiscus boryanus | Foulsapate marron, Mahot bâtard | Photo: Bruno Navez, Réunion island

Lilibiscus is a small section of the genus Hibiscus that contains about 10 species, native to islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These were the species used in the development of the Hibiscus rosa-sinenis varieties found today. Hibiscus boryanus is an endangered and protected species. It is a small tree up to a height of 8m, endemic to the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius and Réunion). Flowers range from orange to red. It prefers locations with year-round moisture but not in excessive amounts. Hibiscus boryanus is a rare but is being reintroduced to the wild by the National Parks and Conservation Service of Mauritius.



Historical Reference Le bois d'Hibiscus boryanus DC, ("foulsapate morron", "mahot batârd"): Arbuste ou petit arbre rare atteignant 8m de haut au fût atteignant 20cm de diamètre, endémique de l'île de la Réunion et l'île Maurice, était autrefois utilisé en construction. Une tisane de feuilles se prenait jadis contre la toux et les feuilles étaient utilisées en bain contre les douleurs rénales.

   Bois d'oeuvre 1, Volume 7
   D. Louppe, A.A. Oteng-Amoako, M. Brink
   Published by PROTA, 2008


Translation: The wood of Hibiscus boryanus DC, ("Foulsapate Morron", "Mahot Batârd"): A rare bush or small tree attaining 8m in height, the trunk attaining 20cm in diameter. Endemic to the island of Réunion and the island Mauritius, in the past it was used for building construction. An herbal tea of leaves was once used for coughs, and leaves were also used in a bath for renal pain.

Hibiscus brackenridgei ssp. brackenridgei

Hibiscus brackenridgei  | Ma'o hau hele, Native Yellow Hibiscus, Brackenridge's Rosemallow

Hibiscus brackenridgei is Hawai'i's State flower, and is listed as an endangered species. It was named after William Brackenridge (1810-1893), an American horticulturist and superintendent of the National Botanic Garden in Washington D.C. Hibiscus brackenridgei is native to dry forests and shrub lands at elevations from 120 to 800m (400 to 2,600 ft). It is a shrub that grows up to 3m in height, with maplelike leaves and bright yellow flowers. It is found on all the main Hawaiian islands except Ni'ihau and Kaho'olawe, but it is not common in any location. Hibiscus Brackenridgei is closely related to the Australian Hibiscus divaricatus and some believe that it may not be specifically distinct from it (Wagner, Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii, 1990).

Hibiscus brackenridgei varies in appearance among islands but generally falls into three subspecies:
      ssp. brackenridgei of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island,
      ssp. mokuleianus, The Mokulei Rosemallow of Oahu and Kauai.
      ssp. molokaianus is an extremely rare 3rd subspecies.

The most visible difference between these subspecies is in the leaves and stems. The leaves of ssp. mokuleianus have more serrated margins and pink veins with tiny spines on the branches. Ssp. brackenridgei, on the other hand, has leaves with more rounded margins and yellow veins, and it lacks the tiny spines on its branches.



Historical Reference: Mr. Rock sent in from the island of Oahu (Territory of Hawaii) a showy tree hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei), bearing yellow flowers 6 inches across. From Honolulu, Hawaii. Seed presented by J. F. Rock. Received June 30, 1920. "A striking and well-marked rather rare species with a shrubby erect stem, 4 to 5 feet high, stiff spreading branches, and rather stout, very leafy flowering stalks. It is worthy of cultivation on account of its showy yellow flowers. The smooth, bright-green leaves on long petioles are rounded in outline, 3 to 4 inches in diameter and 5 to 7-lobed, somewhat resembling those of the common grapevine. The spreading yellow corolla is about 6 Inches across. Found In the scrub vegetation of the leeslde of Oahu, East and West Maul, and Lanai."

This extremely rare species of Hibiscus, which Mr. Rock found growing among the stones at the base of a cliff on the windward side of the island of Oahu, is a thing of rare beauty when covered with its large yellow flowers. Since it grows under arid and rather severe conditions it may be found useful as an ornamental plant in some parts of tropical America which, because of unfavorable climate and soil, are not well suited to the cultivation of many of the common tropical ornamentals. The deep canary-yellow flowers of this exceedingly rare Hibiscus are 6 inches across. Only a few wild plants are in existence, and the species seems not to have found its way into American horticulture, although Hillebrand called attention to the possibilities of its culture more than 30 years ago.

   Plant inventory, Issues 61-70
   Agricultural Research Center-West (U.S.). Northeastern Region
   The Dept., 1922

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hibiscus cameronii

Hibiscus cameronii | Pink Hibiscus, Cameron's Hibiscus

Hibiscus cameronii is endemic to Madagascar. This species was named in honor of David Cameron, curator of the Birmingham Horticultural Society in England during the 1830s. This is a soft-wooded shrub 1-2m tall with palmate 3-7 lobed leaves. The cup-shaped flowers are 7.5 to 10cm in diameter. Flowers have prominent veining and a red-purple spot at the base of the petals. The staminal column is red, and curved downward. Suitable for warmer areas only, Hibiscus cameronii is an attractive free flowering shrub that requires occasional light pruning. It can be grown from soft tip cuttings taken in summer or by seed sown in spring. A sunny location and light well-drained are best since Hibiscus cameronii is susceptible to root-rot in poorly drained soils.

Some references claim there is a close relationship between Hibiscus cameronii and the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis complex of varieties and that they may be intercrossed. This is unlikely since Hibiscus cameroni belongs to a section other than Lilibiscus. It seems that early on, a Lilibiscus seedling (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis hybrid) was named 'Cameroni' and this was the source of all the confusion. To add to the confusion, some older references also refer to Hibiscus cameronii as 'cameroni', however, according to the IPNI website, cameronii is the correct spelling. For more information on Hibiscus cameronii see "Some notes on Hibiscus cameronii"



Historical Reference: Hibiscus Cameroni (Mr. Cameron's Hibiscus) This new species of hibiscus belongs to the frutescent division of the sixth section (Abelmoschus) of Decandolle. We have described this plant as only a foot high, and un-branched, which is the fact; but in all probability it will become much taller, and, as it increases in size, may become branched. It was raised from seeds collected in the island of Madagascar by the British missionaries, by them transmitted to the Rev. J. A. James of Birmingham, in the year 1837, and by that gentleman presented to the Birmingham Horticultural Society, at which establishment our description and drawing were made. It requires to be grown in loam, peat, and sand, and appears like a plant that would increase readily by cuttings; but it is so slow in its growth, that it has not yet produced a single lateral shoot for that purpose, and will long remain a scarce plant unless it should ripen seeds. In has been stated that we are indebted for this plant to the British missionaries, and we do not know any individuals more likely to introduce new genera and species from unexplored regions, inasmuch as they are admitted into parts from which other persons are excluded. For the derivation of hibiscus we beg to refer our readers to our first volume; the specific name is in compliment to Mr. David Cameron, the able and indefatigable curator of the Birmingham horticultural society.

   The Floral Cabinet and Magazine of Exotic Botany, vol. 2
   George Beauchamp Knowles, Frederic Westcott
   publisher: William Smith, 1838

Historical Reference: On this trip, I hope to be able to see the true H. cameronii, for as you know, there has been a horticultural scramble on this one for over a hundred years, in fact, almost since its introduction into England from Madagascar in 1837. I am now convinced that the H. cameronii as described in most modern horticultural literature, is not the true H. cameronii, for as you know, there has been responsible for listing H. cameronii as one of the progenitors of the modern hibiscus hybrids in a lot of literature on the subject, including my own. What has been erroneously called H. cameronii is the pink known by many names, Puahi Bishop in Hawaii, and Versicolor in Southern California and Florida. It is very popular in Fiji and other Pacific Islands, and goes under many different names. Although certain reports from India indicate that H. cameronii has been crossed with H. rosa-sinensis, there is no proof that these crosses, too, were not with the pink referred to above. Dr. Y. Tachibana of the Osaka Botanic Garden reports that he has been unsuccessful in his efforts to cross the true H. cameronii with H. rosa-sinensis, but I want to see it and possibly secure seed, as it may be a candidate for the ancestral species for which we are seeking.

   Letters to J.W. Staniford from Ross H. Gast
   October 1963


Hibiscus campylosiphon var. glabrescens

Hibiscus campylosiphon | Lanútan, Losúban, Pañgardísen, Takúlau Blanco

Hibiscus campylosiphon is a medium-sized tree (to 15m tall) endemic to the Philippine Islands. This species is found in various locations throughout the Philippines, but is common and widely distributed in Luzon. With a short trunk that is often crooked, Hibiscus campylosiphon has large red-centered flowers (up to 8cm) that open white in the morning, sometimes turning to pink as the day progresses. The alternate leaves (6-8 inches ling) are pointed at the tip and rounded at the base. The red fruits are oval, pointed, and about 4cm long. Formerly known as Bombycidendron vidalianum, Thespesia campylosiphon and Hibiscus vidalianus.

Historical uses: Hibiscus campylosiphon furnishes a moderately hard wood that was used in the manufacture of carriage shafts, musical instruments, boat oars and baseball bats. Rope made from the bast possessed considerable strength, and the bark was woven into hats.




Historical Reference: 38486. Bombycidendron vidalianum (Naves) Merr. and Rolfe. (Thespesia campylosiphon Vidal.) Malvaceae. Lanutan. From Lamao, Bataan, Philippine Islands. Presented by Mr. P. J. Wester, horticulturist, Division of Horticulture, Lamao Experiment Station. Received June 4, 1914. " Seed of the lanutan, a tree valuable for Its wood, and also quite ornamental, with large white flowers having a red center, shaped like those of the tropical Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, about 7 inches in diameter. It is probably too tender for Florida.

   ‪Plant inventory, Issues 31-40
   ‪United States. Dept. of Agriculture
   Published ‪1914‬

Hibiscus cisplatinus

Hibiscus cisplatinus | Rosa Del Río, Hibisco de Bañado

This South American species has attractive pink flowers with a darker throat. It is the only Hibiscus species endemic to subtropical South America, (Argentina and Uruguay), and the only deciduous Hibiscus found in South America. The name cisplatinus is in reference to the Rio de La Plata, a large esturay southeast of Buenos Aires, where this species was originally discovered. It is found growing by stream banks in its native habitat. Hibiscus cisplatinus forms large, multi-stemmed shrub up to 2m tall. The stems have small spines, but not as large as those found on Hibiscus striatus. Hibiscus cisplatinus is closely related to Hibiscus striatus. For more information about this taxonomic relationship, see reference under Hibiscus striatus ssp. Lambertianus



Historical Reference: La plante dont nous publions aujourd'hui le portrait est également sud-américaine, mais elle croît sous une latitude beaucoup plus australe. Je l'ai reçue, par les soins de mon ami M. Gantera, de la République de l'Uruguay où elle croît à l'état sauvage. C'est notre compatriote Auguste de Saint-Hilaire quila découvrit le premier, en deçà du rio de la Pinta (comme l'indique son nom) et sur les bords du rio Negro, puis de l'Encapamento do rincaô das Galinhas, où elle fleurissait en décembre. Depuis deux années, je cultive cette espèce à La Croix où elle croît vigoureusement et se couvre de grandes et jolies fleurs lilas à centre pourpre foncé, pendant toute la belle saison. Une variété s'est montrée à fleurs presques blanches. En voici la description prise sur le vif:

Translation: The plant which we publish the picture of today is also South American, but it grows in a more southern latitude. I received it, by the care of my friend Mr. Ganter, from the Republic of Uruguay, where it grows in the wild. It was our compatriot Augustus Saint-Hilaire who discovered it first, below the Rio de la Plata (as indicated by its name) and on the banks of the Rio Negro, then the Incapamento do rincaô das Galinhas, where it flourishes in December. For two years I've been growing this species in La Croix where it grows vigorously and is covered throughout the season with large and beautiful lilac flowers with a dark purple center. There is also a variety with almost white flowers.

   Revue Horticole, Journal D'Horticulture Pratique 1898
   Société nationale d'horticulture de France

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hibiscus coccineus

Hibiscus coccineus: The more common red-colored form
Hibiscus coccineus | Scarlet Hibiscus, Scarlet Rosemallow, Marsh Hibiscus, Red Hibiscus

Hibiscus coccineus occurs naturally in swamps, marshes, and ditches near rivers and streams, from Georgia and Alabama to central Florida. Hibiscus coccineus is one of the largest and most striking of the North American Hibiscus. It sometimes causes a stir since leaves resemble those of marijuana ―but the resemblance quickly ends when the plant bursts forth with its large red flowers in summer!

H. coccinues 'Alba', also known as 'Texas White Star' or 'Lone Star'. 
The Scarlet Hibiscus is a slender shrubby herbaceous perennial that dies back in winter and re-sprouts in spring. Established plants can have one to several stems up to 2m tall. The five petaled flowers are brilliant crimson red 2-3cm across. Each flower lasts only a day but new ones continue to open into fall.

Hibiscus section Muenchhusia: Hibiscus coccineus is another North American member of section Muenchhusia, which is composed of hardy, herbaceous, perennial Hibiscus species. Within section Muenchhusia, there are numerous naturally occuring forms as well as flower colors, ranging from pure white to deep red. Additionally, many cultivars have been released through the years into the nursery trade ―many of these cold-hardy Hibiscus cultivars are hybrids of Hibiscus moscheutos, Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus grandiflorus, Hibiscus laevis, Hibiscus palustris and perhaps even Hibiscus dasycalyx. In cultivation these species, cultivars and hybrids make an attractive addition to the garden, not only adding visual appeal but also enhancing wildlife value for nectar-feeders and birds. What's more, it now looks like a new era of hybridizing has begun for the cold-hardy Swamp Mallow family. For more infomation, see the following article: "A Blue Flowering Winter-hardy Hibiscus".



Historical Reference: Hibiscus Coccineus. There are many beautiful flowers among our native plants which the "Native Flowers & Ferns of the United States" and Professor Goodale's "Wild Flowers of America" are doing much to make known. Hibiscus coccineus, is just as showy as the Chinese Hibiscus, with the advantage of being hardy at least as far north as Philadelphia. A southern correspondent tells us he is about to put it on the market, and we are sure he will do good work.

   The Gardener's monthly and horticulturist
   Editor: Thomas Meehan
   Published by Charles H. Marot, 1881

Hibiscus columnaris

Hibiscus columnaris | Mahot Rempart

Hibiscus columnaris is endemic to Mauritius and Réunion Islands, however, on Mauritius it is considered extinct since the last specimen was seen in the 19th century. On Réunion, there are only a few remaining specimens. This small, often multi-trunked tree grows up to 2m tall, in semi-dry regions of the island. It is a good candidate for a water conserving garden. the flowers are yellow, and leaves are slightly fuzzy giving them a sandpaper-like feel. The leaf shape is similar to that of Hibiscus mutabilis, however, the flowers are quite different.



Reference: Ce petit arbre peut atteindre une dizaine de mètres de hauteur, avec un tronc d'un diamètre de 30 centimètre. Il est souvant très ramifiés à sa base. Son écorce, lisse, reste verte même sur les tronc assez âgés. Les feuilles juvéniles sont parfois palmatilobées devenant tricuspides chez les individus adultes. Leur forme évoque celle de certains Dombeya. Les stipules sont longues, bien visibles à la base du pétiole.Les fleurs apparaissent d'avril à juillet à la base des feuilles et présentent des pétales jaunes qui restent parallèles à la colonne staminique imposante, caractéristique des Hibiscus. La floraison est importante et esthétique mais donne rarement des fruits et des graines. Hibiscus Columnaris est devenu rare et ne se rencontre plus dans les forêts semi-sèches de basse et moyenne altitude.

Translation: This small tree can reach about ten meters high with a trunk diameter of 30cm. It is often much branched at its base. Its bark is smooth and still green even on the older trunk. The young leaves are sometimes palmate becoming tricuspid when mature. Their shape evokes that of some Dombeya. The stipules are long, clearly visible at the base of the stalk. The flowers appear from April to July at the base of leaves and have yellow petals that remain parallel to the imposing stamenal column, characteristic of Hibiscus. The flowers appear from April to July at the base of leaves and have yellow petals that remain parallel to the imposing stamen column, characteristic of Hibiscus. Flowers are prominent and aesthetic but rarely fruit and seed. Hibiscus Columnaris has become rare and is no longer found in the semi-dry forests of the low and medium altitudes.

Reference: I have seen only a few poor specimens of Hibiscus columnaris, but it certainly belongs either to the section Ketmia under which De Candolle already mentioned it, or to section Trionum. Hibiscus lampas, also incorporated in section Columnaris by Hochreutiner, is treated in the present revision under the genus Thespesia on account of its compound stigma.

   Malesian Malvaceae revised
   By Jan van Borssum Waalkes
   Published by J. J. Groen en Zoon, 1966

Hibiscus costatus

Hibiscus costatus | Algodoncillo, Baba de Perro, Hibisco de Sabana

Representatives of Hibiscus section Furcaria are found in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world including Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia and some Pacific Islands. Section Furcaria consists of about 60 species, with at least 17 of these from the Americas.

Hibiscus costatus is a perennial shrub to 1.5m tall, found in Cuba, southern Mexico and Central America. It grows in evergreen forest, oak woodland, savanna, scrub, often in wet or sandy places. The solitary flowers are pink, and in warmer areas Hibiscus costatus flowers throughout the year. In Cuba and Mexico there are a variety of common names including: Algodoncillo, Baba de Perro, and Hibisco de Sabana.



Historical Reference: BABA DE PERRO: Nombre que dan en el barrio de Cerro de Cabras (Pinar del Río) al Hibiscus costatus, A. Rich., Malvácea silvestre, de flores grandes, rosadas. El nombre se debe a la gran cantidad de mucilago que tienen sus tallos. V. Hibisco de Sabana.

Translation: DOG'S SALIVA: Name given in the barrio de Cerro de Cabras (Pinar del Río) to Hibiscus costatus, A. Rich., a wild malvaceae with big, pink flowers. The name is due to the large quantity of mucilage that the stems have. V. Savanna Hibiscus.

   ‪Boletin, Issue 1; Issue 54‬
   ‪Santiago de las Vegas (Cuba). Estación Experimental Agronómica‬,
   Published ‪1953‬

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hibiscus dasycalyx

Hibiscus dasycalyx, The Necches River Rosemallow:
a rare marsh plant known from only a few locations in eastern Texas
Hibiscus dasycalyx | Neches River Rosemallow, Narrow-Leaved Hibiscus, Nacogdoches River Mallow

Muenchhusia is a section of  Hibiscus, composed of five closely related, hardy, perennial species native to North America. These species are mainly confined to marshy habitats in the eastern half of the United States, and are collectively identified as 'Rose-mallows'. The five species are: Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus dasycalyx, Hibiscus grandiflorus, Hibiscus laevis and Hibiscus moscheutos. Both H. lasiocarpos and H. palustris can be split from H. moscheutos but are sometimes ranked as subspecies.

Hibiscus dasycalyx, the Neches River Rosemallow, is a rare marsh plant known only from a few locations in eastern Texas. It is threatened by hybridization and encroachment of both Hibiscus laevis and Hibiscus moscheutos into its range, as well as loss of habitat along the Neches River and tributaries. Because Hibiscus dasycalyx hybridizes easily with both Hibiscus laevis and Hibiscus moscheutos, questions have been raised as to the taxonomic validity of Hibiscus dasycalyx. Two independent genetic studies (Mendoza 2004; Small 2004) indicate that it is in fact a distinct species, but more closely related to Hibiscus laevis than Hibiscus moscheutos. Robert Klips suggested that Hibiscus dasycalyx might best be regarded as a subspecies or variety of Hibiscus laevis (Klips 1995).

Hibiscus dasycalyx has delicate, slender, finely divided leaves on long, arching stems. The creamy white flowers are up to 15cm with dark burgundy eyes, and appear from June through August. Occasionally the petals will be pink. Plants often bloom into October depending upon water availability. This Hibiscus is distinguished from other native Hibiscus in that its flower has a densely pubescent calyx and its mature seeds are densely pubescent as well. Budding and leafing normally occur in late March and April, and seed pods are present from July through November. Seeds are buoyant in water for several hours thus aiding in the dispersal of the species.

The Neches River Rosemallow is a species of conservation concern with a history of declining numbers, and is a candidate for the federally listed Endangered Species Act. It is found naturally in only three confirmed counties of East Texas (Houston, Trinity, Cherokee and possibly Harrison) with one population recently discovered in the Davy Crockett National Forest in Houston County. It occurs naturally in wetlands, floodplains and in marsh conditions near the Neches, Trinity, and Angelina Rivers where the bases of the plants stand in water until late in the growing season (and may remain year round in marsh conditions). Like other Hibiscus in section Muenchhusia, the stems die back in late fall and resume growth from the rootstock in March to April. For best floral development, all of these American perennial mallows must be grown in full sun. While they are native to areas that are flooded during part of the growing season, they will often do well in cultivation with weekly watering.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Hibiscus diriffan

Hibiscus diriffan: Although it is rare in California,
this species is often misidentified as Hibiscus scottii.
Hibiscus diriffan

Hibiscus diriffan is endemic to the island of Soqotra. The Soqotran Archipelago is a group of islands in the Arabian Sea belonging to Yemen. Hibiscus diriffan is distributed on the southern limestone plateaus of the island, from Diksam to Wadi Irih and extending onto the granitic slopes of the Haggeher mountains. It can be found growing at altitudes of 20–1,300m and is common in several vegetation types. According to a 2004 IUCN asessment, this is a species of "least comcern", and considered to be under no present or perceived threat.

Hibiscus diriffan has bright yellow flowers and small gray-green leaves. It is similar to another Soqotran endemic, Hibiscus quattanensis but differs in the densely stellate-hairy not glabrescent pedicels, epicalyx and calyx. The leaves are also narrower with a distinctly cordate base and crenate margins, and have a tendency to become lobed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hibiscus denisonii

Hibiscus archeri, Hibiscus liliiflorus and
Hibiscus denisonii (light pink flower). 
Hibiscus denisonii

Hibiscus denisonii is considered by some to be a species of section Lilibiscus. Confusion and mystery shroud this plant, but at least the confusion regarding flower color can be put to rest: when blooms first open in the morning they are a pale pink color, but as the day progresses, they fade to white. The leaves themselves are very similar to Hibiscus liliiflorus (a species from the Mascarene Islands), although the flowers are somewhat smaller. 

Ross Gast wrote: Little is known of the origin of this one; it was brought to England by B.S. Williams, English nurseryman, about 1875, and offered by him as a pot plant because the very small plants produced "large creamy white flowers", and modern horticultural literature still refers to it as a white. It was apparently named for William Denison, Governor of New South Wales, at the time the first material was sent to Kew, and the same man who sponsored Dr. Seeman's stay in Fiji. I saw and photographed H. denisonii at Kew a year ago and recorded it in my notes as being a "delicate pink" in color. The color photographs were taken in a poor light but they also show the flower to be pink. Both Paul Weissich and Dr.Y. Tachibana have H. denisonii, and they confirm the fact that it is pink in color, although turning to white late in the day. Honolulu, Hawaii October 24, 1963 Letters to J.W. Staniford 1963-67 from Ross H. Gast

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hibiscus fragilis

Hibiscus fragilis | Augerine, Mandrinette

Hibiscus fragilis is one of the original species (from Hibiscus section Lilibiscus) that was used in the development of many of the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars found today. Lamentably, the Mandrinette is one of the many critically endangered plant species unique to the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. This species is endemic to Mauritius and Réunion Islands, however it is now considered extinct on Réunion. Conservation status is listed as critically endangered (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). In the wild, this species was thought to have been reduced to only ten plants (in the Corps de Garde Mountains of Mauritius) until more recently, 26 new plants were discovered on the top of Le Morne Brabant, one of the island's highest mountains (Le Morne Brabant is a peninsula with a summit of 556m, located at the extreme south-western tip of Mauritius).

In nature, Hibiscus fragilis is found in exposed locations of mountainous areas (subtropical/tropical dry habitats). This highly ornamental, evergreen shrub has pink to carmine red flowers and deep green glossy foliage. As compared with the majority of modern Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars, Hibiscus fragilis has relatively small flowers, and leaves that feel thicker and rougher to the touch. Despite its Latin name, fragilis (meaning ‘easily broken, breakable, brittle or fragile’), this upright growing shrub has stems and branches that are quite flexible, as compared to most Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars.

Regeneration in its natural habitat is poor, due to introduction of alien species, however Hibiscus fragilis is easily propagated by cuttings and seeds. The continued survival of this species depends upon successful management of the wild populations, and ongoing propagation of known cultivated sources.



Reference: El mandrinitte (Hibiscus fragilis) es un hermoso arbusto de flores rojas, que se encuentra exclusivamente en las islas Mauricio, situadas a unos 900km de Madagascar. En la actualidad su población se reduce a unas 20 plantas adultas situadas en una reducida área montañosa y una segunda población de 26 plantas, hallada recientemente en la cima de la montaña Morne Brabant, en la misma isla. No se está regenerando, probablemente por la competencia de especies introducidas. La única esperanza de supervivencia de esta plant es manejar las dos poblaciones silvestres conocidas mediante la erradicación de competidores exóticos y la repoblación artificial de áreas, si fuera necesario. Segun la Lista Roja del UICN se halla en Peligro crítico.

Translation: The Mandrinitte (Hibiscus fragilis) is a beautiful red flowered shrub found exclusively on the islands of Mauritius, located about 900km from Madagascar. Presently, its population is reduced to approximately 20 adult plants in a small mountainous area and a second population of 26 plants, recently discovered at the top of Mt. Morne Brabant, on the same island. It is not being regenerated, probably due to competition from introduced species. The only hope for survival of this plant is manage the two known wild populations by eradicating exotic competitors and the restocking of areas, if necessary. According to the IUCN Red List is in Critical Danger.

   Enciclopedia de la Ecología y la salud
   By José A Valtueña
   Published by Editorial Safeliz, 2002

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hibiscus heterophyllus

 Hibiscus heterophyllus | Native Rosella, Sorrel Tree, Various-Leaved Hibiscus
Photo courtesy of Colleen Keena

Hibiscus heterophyllus is found in open Australian forests from the south coast of New South Wales to northeast Queensland. It is a medium to large shrub, 3-6m high. The large 15cm flowers last only 1-2 days but new flowers continue to bloom over a long period, generally from spring through to summer. The flowers may be white, pink or yellow with a deep red center, followed by hairy seed capsules, which can cause skin irritation ―exercise caution when handling! In northern Queensland plants tend to be yellow flowered and begin blooming in June, while further south they tend to be white flowered and begin in December. The flower buds can be made into jam and other parts of the plant have been used by Aboriginal people as a food source. For more information, see this excerpt on Australian Bushfoods: Native Rosella

Historical Information: Hibiscus heterophyllus was recorded in the Brisbane area in 1824 by Allan Cunningham, in 1828 by Charles Fraser and again in 1844 by Ludwig Leichhardt. Describing the vegetation along the Brisbane River, Cunningham noted that Hibiscus heterophyllus was very frequent on the immediate bank "clothed with a profusion" of flowers.



Historical Reference: Hibiscus heterophyllus — The Various-Leaved Hibiscus. Synonyme - Hibiscus grandifloras. Specific Character - Stem shrubby, prickly. Leaves lanceolate, for the most part three-lobed, with prickly scrratures. Description —This very beautiful plant is a native of New Holland, and requires a greenhouse in this country. In its native country it forms a large-sized shrub, and the natives make its bark into cordage. In England it grows best in a conservatory, where it is extremely ornamental, not only for its flowers, but for its leaves, which vary exceedingly. The only drawback to its cultivation is, that its flowers last a very short time, falling almost as soon as they have expanded.

   Ladies' Flower-garden of Ornamental Greenouse Plants
   By Jane Loundon
   Published by William Smith, 1848


Historical Reference: Charles Fraser traveled upstream on the Brisbane river in July 1828. Fraser's journal notes: "Following the course of the river towards the termination of Oxley's Range, the banks, which are comparatively divested of thickets, become more open and picturesque, and the nearer the Bremer is approached, the clearer is the country and the more precipitous the banks. These are interspersed with excellent Gum Trees, (Eucalypti), occasional patches of Currijong (Brachychiton), and Natives' Cordage Tree, (Hibiscus heterophyllus) which again are overhung with a new and beautiful kind of Passion Flower.

   Journal of a two months' residence on the banks of the Rivers Brisbane and Logan.
   By Charles Fraser, Colonial Botanist, July 1828

Hibiscus hirtus

Hibiscus hirtus | Lesser Mallow, दुपारी Dupari (Marathi), Lal-surgumini (Bengali)

Hibiscus hirtus is a diminutive species from the East Indies and Malaysia. The Lesser Mallow is an easy to grow tropical sub-shrub or perennial which reaches up to 6m in height. It has small, attractive flowers up to 3cm across. Flowers can be red, white, pink or orange. The Marathi name Dupari (noon) comes from the fact the flowers open fully at noon. This species is similar to, and in the past often confused with another tiny Hibiscus species ―Hibiscus phoeniceus from Carribbean and Central America.



Historical Reference: Clearly a very distinct species from the Hibiscus phœniceus of the younger Linnaeus and Jacquin, published in the third volume of this work, fol. 230; although probably a mere variety of the Hibiscus hirtus of the elder Linnaeus, incautiously subjoined by Willdenow to phœniceus as the variety B. In phœniceus the peduncles are jointed, and the upper part is thicker than the lower; which is not the case here. The leaflets of the inner calyx are there membranous, rather smooth, and three times broader than in our plant, where they are herbaceous and roughly furred. Phœniceus is altogether a much slenderer plant, not so conspicuously nor stiffly furred as the present; and we suspect that it is not even an East-Indian vegetable. Jacquin's specimen is preserved in the Banksian Herbarium, and is evidently of a distinct species from the three other specimens from three distant parts of India preserved in the same place under one name; and which appear all to be of the species of our plant. Probably Jacquin's plant is really South-American, as he asserts.

The drawing was made from a sample which flowered late in the summer at Messrs. Whitley, Brames, and Milne's, Fulham; where it had been raised from seed, sent from Calcutta by Mrs. Clarke. According to Van Rheede it grows to be a pretty large shrub. Koenig speaks of its being very generally cultivated in the gardens of the temples of India. Dr. Roxburgh says it is common in all parts of that country .

Linnaeus has not adduced Van Rheede's figure to his hirtus; and it being possible that his plant may be specifically distinct from the present, we have deemed it safer to abide by Kœnig's specific name; his plant being clearly the species and variety of Van Rheede and Roxburgh, as well as of the present article. We do not know that the species has been before introduced into this country. Cultivated in the hothouse. The colour of the flower is extremely brilliant.

   The Botanical Register: Consisting of Coloured Figures of Exotic Plants
   By Sydenham Teast Edwards, John Lindley
   Published 1818

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hibiscus insularis

Hibiscus insularis | Phillip Island Hibiscus

Hibiscus insularis is endemic to Phillip Island in the Norfolk Island Group, where the species is confined to three patches on the northern slopes (Green 1994; Mosley 2001). These plants have survived despite the grazing pigs, goats and rabbits which destroyed most of the Island's vegetation. With all of the introduced animals now removed from Phillip Island, seedlings are now growing near the original bushes. Hibiscus insularis was down to three or four bushes, and was in danger of extinction until cuttings were sent to the Sydney Botanical Gardens.

Although the species is listed as Critically Endangered (under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999), it is now well established in cultivation. Hibiscus insularis is a dense bushy shrub to 4m. The 6-9cm blooms are produced freely in late summer and autumn. The flowers have cream colored petals which turn to a light purplish rose color with age. The crimson stigma pads are pronounced for a small flower. This Hibiscus is ideal for growing in coastal areas and is reasonably salt tolerant. Apparently, the plant retains a juvenile form for up to 10 years, with smaller leaves. Australian sources relay that it may take a number of years before the young plants reach maturity and they begin to bloom for the first time. For more information on Hibiscus insularis, see this excellent article: Hibiscus insularis



Historical Reference: Hibiscus insularis endemic on Phillip Island. A few plants still remain on the island, but those that I saw were in a most unhealthy condition, being covered with coccids, aphides, smuts, and other blights and pests. They were obviously maintaining an unequal struggle with an unfavourable environment.

   Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand
   Vol. XLVII, July 1915


Reference: It is not certain when rabbits were introduced to Philip but HOARE (1968) showed they were present in numbers in 1838. Today the vegetation is virtually absent. There are a few white oaks (Lagunaria) in the moister central valley, a straggly clump of Hibiscus insularis, and a few weeds, many of which are not native. A few scrawny rabbits remain. HOARE (1968) stated the pigs and goats were not exterminated until well into the third phase of settlement. One can surmise that the populations of these built up, possibly neglected in the early years of the third phase whilst the Pitcairners were settling in to their new home. Regeneration of shrubs would have been prevented and dry spells would have led to the goats reaching for the mature foliage of the scrub and the pigs grubbing for roots and gnawing at bark. Coupled with the island's natural tendency for soil erosion, these factors could have led to the gradual decline of the vegetation to a level where the larger herbivores might have died out naturally. Should the rabbits finally be exterminated, CUNNINGHAM'S notes provide a guide for efforts to restore the natural vegetation, though the Streblorrhiza and the topsoil are lost.

Philip now stands pinkly to the south of Norfolk, the pink relieved only by a few dark dots of vegetation. Numerous seabirds nest there and tourists come to marvel at the variety of hues of red, orange and yellow of the exposed subsoil. The fate of Philip Island should be borne in mind when considering the changes that have occurred and are still occurring on the main island.

   Series Entomologica
   Volume 13 of The Lepidoptera of Norfolk Island: Their Biogeography and Ecology
   Jeremy Daniel Holloway, Springer, 1966

Hibiscus kokio

Hibiscus kokio | Hawaiian Red Hibiscus, Red Koki‘o, Koki‘o ‘Ula ‘Ula, Pualoalo

Hibiscus kokio is a small tree with red flowers. This Hawaiian species is not officially red-listed, but it is rare in nature. In Kauai, it can grow at elevations 70-890m. Hibiscus kokio is a variable species, usually with red to orangish-red flowers. Historically, Hawaiians used the petals to make kapa dye, and its wood produced a fine charcoal. References to the koki‘o ‘ula‘ula (‘ula means “red”) are found in old Hawaiian songs and legends. It was also popular for making leis, and was one of the few species that Hawaiians traditionally planted around their dwellings for its flowers. Hibiscus kokio was the official flower of Hawaii back in 1923, but was later replaced by Hibiscus brackenridgei. Two subspecies are recognized:

Hibiscus kokio ssp. kokio found in the dry to wet forests on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, and possibly Hawaii; Hibiscus kokio var. kahilii currently seems to refer to a naturally occurring pink-flowered form. For more information on Hibiscus kokio var. kahilii, see: Endemic Pink Hibiscus Hails From Kauai
Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus A very rare endemic plant found in the coastal valleys of northwestern Kaua‘i with orange (sometimes yellow) flowers. This subspecies was named for one of Hawai‘i’s botanists, Harold St.John.




Reference: By 1885 most of Hawaii's thirty-three species of native hibiscus were rare, having succumbed to the ravages of cattle and blight. Although amateurs hybridizers utilized the re-flowered ones only infrequently for breeding experiments (the whites were more popular), those concerned for their survival brought many cuttings into cultivation. If you are privileged to own one, treat it as any hibiscus bush. Water it well and prune periodically to stimulate fresh flowering branches. Hibiscus, like fuchsias, bloom most profusely on new growth. Koki'o 'ula roots readily from cuttings.

Before cattle were introduced into Hawai'i to roam freely, wild red hibiscus bushes were available to Hawaiians for use in decoration. rituals, tapa cloth (the best fiber was from the inner bark), dyes, and medicines. All parts of the plant are edible (for example, roots, flower buds, sap. and leaves were welcome tonics to purify weakened or clogged-up innards). Adults chewed red hIbiscus buds and leaves to relieve constipation, and small doses of the mildly acting buds were even administered to babies. A traditional blood purifier incorporated red hibiscus roots pounded with dried tree fern trunks and morning glory roots. Sugarcane was added to mask the unpalatable taste.

   Hawaiian heritage plants
   By Angela Kay Kepler
   Published by University of Hawaii Press, 1998

Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus

Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus
Flower color ranges from yellow to dark orange.
Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus | Hawaiian Orange Hibiscus, St. John's Hibiscus, St. John's Rosemallow, Koki'o, Koki'o 'ula , Koki'o 'ula'ula , Maku

There are two subspecies of Hibiscus kokio, distinguished by several characteristics: Hibiscus kokio ssp. kokio has hairy leaves and stems, long bracts on the calyx, and red flowers, whereas Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus has fewer hairs on the leaves and stems, short bracts on the calyx, and orange, orange-red, or yellow flowers. Hibiscus kokio var. kahilii currently seems to refer to a naturally occurring pink-flowered form. For more information on Hibiscus kokio var. kahilii, see: Endemic Pink Hibiscus Hails From Kauai

Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus (formerly Hibiscus saintjohnianus and Hibiscus roetae) is endemic to the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. The name saintjohnianus commemorates one of Hawaii's most well known botanists, Harold St. John.

Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus grows as a shrub or a small tree ranging from 3 to 7m in height. The solitary flowers which distinguish this subspecies are usually orange to orangish red, or yellow, usually 4.5-7 cm long. Hibiscus kokio ssp. saintjohnianus is found on Kauai, restricted to the northwest of the island, between 150 and 890m in elevation. There are approximately 10 extant populations containing several thousand plants. Found naturally in moist forests and shrub lands, most often on cliffs, sometimes on gulch slopes. Threats include feral goats and pigs, deer, and various alien plants.



Reference: Hibiscus kokio is variable in vegetative and floral characters throughout its range. Variations are largely recurrent among the populations of each island except in the coastal valleys of northwestern Kaua'i, the range of subsp. saintjohnianus. Some of the more striking forms are cultivated and have been used in breeding cultivars of H. rosa-sinensis (Wilcox & Holt, 1913; Bates, 1965). Subspecies kokio (including H. kahilii, H. kokio var. pekeloi, H. k. var. pukoonis, H. oahuensis, H. ula), with calyx stellate pubescent and flowers red, occurs in dry to wet forest, 70-800 m, on Kaua'i, O'ahu, Moloka'i, Maui, and presumably Hawai'i, whereas subsp. saintjohnianus [including Hibiscus roetae] has calyx predominantly glandular pubescent, flowers usually orange to orangish red or even yellow, and tends to have less stem and leaf pubescence and shorter involucral bracts relative to the length of the calyx. It occurs in dry to mesic forest, 150-890(-1,100)m, on northwestern Kaua'i.

   Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai'i. VOLUME 1
   by Warren Lambert Wagner
   University of Hawai'i Press, Bishop Museum Press, 1999


Reference: 115. KOKIO or PUAALOALO. (Hibiscus)
This plant is very much the same as the foreign hibiscus introduced into the islands. There are two varieties and these are known by their flowers. The one is of a reddish color and the other is yellowish. The medicinal value of both is the same. The leaves and the buds are largely used for softening the contents of the stomach and bowels, especially in cases of constipation.

For children, the bottom of the buds are chewed and fed to them by their mothers. For the adults, the young leaves are chewed and swallowed. The slimy juice that comes from the leaves or from the buds acts as a gentle laxative for the system and is very helpful for general debility and for a run-down condition.

   Hawaiian Herbs of Medicinal Value
   by D. M. Kaaiakamanu, J. K. Akina
   Published by The Minerva Group, Inc., 2003

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hibiscus lasiocarpos

Hibiscus lasiocarpos | Hairy-fruited Hibiscus, Hairy-fruited Rose Mallow, Hairy Rose Mallow, Downy Rose Mallow, California Hibiscus, Delta Hibiscus, Sacramento Rose Mallow, River Mallow, Woolly Rose Mallow

As a common name, Hibiscus is more often applied to the showy tropical types, such as the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cultivars. There is, however, another equally showy group of hardy, herbaceous, perennial Hibiscus, native to North America ―Hibiscus section Muenchhusia, composed of a number of closely related species that are mainly confined to marshy habitats (edges and banks of ponds, lakes, ditches, and streams, and low wet wooded areas) in the eastern U.S. These are collectively referred to as 'Rose Mallows' or 'Swamp Mallows'. The Muenchhusia species are: Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus dasycalyx, Hibiscus grandiflorus, Hibiscus laevis, Hibiscus moscheutos, Hibiscus lasiocarpos and Hibiscus palustris. Both Hibiscus lasiocarpos and Hibiscus palustris can be split from Hibiscus moscheutos, and are sometimes ranked as subspecies or varieties.

Hibiscus section Muenchhusia: Within section Muenchhusia, there are numerous naturally occuring forms as well as flower colors, ranging from pure white to deep red. Additionally, many cultivars have been released through the years into the nursery trade. In cultivation these species, cultivars and hybrids make an attractive addition to the garden, not only adding visual appeal but also enhancing wildlife value for nectar-feeders and birds. But it now looks like a new era of hybridizing has begun for the cold-hardy Swamp Mallow family. For more infomation, see the following article: "A Blue Flowering Winter-hardy Hibiscus".

Due to range overlap and resultant intergraded forms, there is ongoing discussion as to whether Hibiscus lasiocarpos (along with Hibiscus palustris) merit species status. It appears that the eastern, glabrous-fruited Hibiscus moscheutos is distributed from New Hampshire to Florida and westward, where it gives way to (and intergrades with) the more western pubescent-fruited Hibiscus lasiocarpus. Hibiscus lasiocarpos is also identified with the following basionyms: Hibiscus moscheutos ssp. lasiocarpos and Hibiscus moscheutos var. lasiocarpos.

Hibiscus lasiocarpos is a bushy perennial with multiple sprawling stems up to 2m long, with a height of approximately 4’ tall. Cutting the plant back in late spring results in shorter plants with larger flowers. The heart-shaped, usually pubescent leaves, are generally between 6 and 10 cm long. This species can be quite variable in its pubescence, with some plants almost completely glabrous while others growing in the same location are densely pubescent. The subtly fragrant flowers are large and showy, commanding attention when in full bloom (usually August through September). The inflorescence holds solitary flowers, usually cream to white colored (sometimes tinged with pink ), with a deep maroon eye, and petals up to 10cm long.

As implied by its many common names, Hibiscus lasiocarpos (sometimes also spelled Hibiscus lasiocarpus), has a wide distribution ranging from California and parts of northern Mexico, to much of the southeastern U.S. In the wild, Hibiscus lasiocarpos occurs along stream banks and freshwater marshes. It makes an excellent subject for bog gardens due to its ability to tolerate constantly wet soil. Young plants should be kept evenly moist, however older, established plants can be watered less frequently. During winter, Hibiscus lasiocarpos dies back to the roots, so it does not require much watering during this time, unless you are in a particularly arid climate.

In California, this native Hibiscus can be found growing in damp areas along the Sacramento River Delta. Threatened by riverbank alteration and loss of habitat, it is classified by the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) as List 2, meaning that it is rare, threatened or endangered in California, but more common elsewhere. In California, Hibiscus lasiocarpus has been through a variety of name changes including: Hibiscus californicus Kell 1873, Hibiscus moscheutos var. occidentals 1874, Hibiscus lasiocarpus var. occidentalis Gray 1887, Hibiscus lasiocarpus var. occidentalis Bailey 1915.




Historical Reference: Hibiscus lasiocarpus. Very similar to Hibiscus moscheutos, with broadly ovate leaves, more or less cordate at the base, nearly equally tomentose on both sides. Bracts of the incolucre ciliate. Flowers as in Hibiscus moscheutos. Capsule more or less densely hairy. [The form figured at the above place is the var. occidentalis, Gray, from Mexico and California, which differs in having the leaves more uniformly cordate at the base, and the capsule pubescent rather than hirstute.] North America.

   List of published names of plants introduced to cultivation: 1876 to 1896
   Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Hibiscus laevis

Hibiscus laevis | Halberd-Leaved Rose Mallow, Smooth Rose Mallow

Hibiscus laevis, formerly known as Hibiscus militaris was named after the halberd, a military weapon used by European soldiers in the 14th-16th centuries. The halberd name lives on with this herbaceous native American perennial Hibiscus, whose leaves taper to a sharp narrow point. Hibiscus laevis is mostly unbranched, the pale pink 15cm flowers with a crimson base are born on smooth stout stems that rise up to 2cm. Flowers last only a single day. The fruit capsules split at maturity and release seeds that are covered with reddish brown hairs. Hibiscus laevis occurs naturally in swamps, marshes, ditches and along water bodies in eastern Canada and central and eastern U.S., south to northern Florida and Texas. It prefers full or partial sun and fertile soil. This wetland species doesn't like to dry out.



Historical Reference: A little beyond this are three beds of the mallow family; the hollyhocks belong here, as do the mallows; the crimson-eye mallow, and the swamp-rose mallow, both from North America, are showy representatives of this family; the Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow, also a North American plant, with its pinkish white flowers with a deeper center, is also showy; and the marsh mallow, a native of Europe and the Orient, is also shown; its root is used in the manufacture of a mucilage and for medicinal purposes.

   Bulletin of the New York Botanical Garden
   Published for the Garden by the New Era Printing Co., 1908


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hibiscus liliiflorus

Hibiscus liliiflorus | Rodrigues Tree Hibiscus, Lily Flowered Hibiscus

The Mascarene Islands lie east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants, Mauritius, Rodrigues and Reunion have many native plant species that are either threatened or extinct. Almost extinct in the wild, Hibiscus liliiflorus was reduced to a single plant growing on the top of a mountain. This exquisite plant is one of the species used in the development of some of the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis hybrids we have today. Fortunately H. liliiflorus still survives in a few botanical gardens and private collections.



Reference: In the late 1970s, botanists had shown interest in a rare tree hibiscus (Hibiscus liliiflorus) growing on top of the highest mountain on Rodrigues. When Gerald Durrell went out to make a film, he discovered that it was being eaten up by goats. Money was given to fence it off from the goats, and forestry department workers were sent out to put up the fence. When the workers realized that they didn’t have enough fencng to go around the entire plant, they chopped off one of its large branches to make the hibiscus fit inside the fence. “They didn’t quite get it,” Wendy laments, shaking her head. “I saw the hibiscus in 1982, just after it had died.” She was given new hope, however, when she learned that a cutting taken from the plant had survived and was growing in a Catholic priest’s home on the island. “Again, when the plant was fenced, people went up and began taking bits of bark, branches, and also leaving money and putting little candles on the tree,” she recalls. “It became another magic tree. In 1982, when she went up with a forester to take a cutting, only remnants of the hibiscus remained, its fate sealed with wax from the candles placed on it and burnt in its honor. She stood there, staring at the remains, realizing nothing more could he done for it. As she contemplated the dead plant, the forester climbed over the fence and began picking up the change strewn around it. Then she recognized the second tragedy: “People were still throwing money in— these were poor people; they didn’t have ‘loose change’ to spare.

   Watching, from the Edge of Extinction
   By Beverly Peterson Stearns
   Published by Yale University Press, 2000

Historical Reference: Hibiscus Liliiflorus, Lily-Flowered Hibiscus.Malvaceae. This elegant plant, of which there are many varieties, was introduced a few years since by Mr. Barclay. It is necessary to preserve it in the stove; it grows freely, and flowers during the summer. The flowers are of a bright rosy lilac; it is necessary to preserve it in the stove, as it is a native of the Mauritius. It will increase readily by cuttings, and should be potted in loam and peat soil. Hibiscus, from ibis; a stork ; said to chew and inject a clyster.

   The Floricultural Cabinet, and Florists Magazine
   Published by Whitaker & Co., 1834

Historical Reference ―Hybids: A mule plant, derived from Hibiscus liliiflorus, whose flowers were fertilized by the pollen of Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis. The consequence is a production, very variable, indeed, as to the size and form both of leaves and flowers, and amply deserving a place in every collection of stove plants. The first I heard of this charming plant was from my often-mentioned friend and invaluable correspondent, Charles Telfair, Esq. of the Mauritius, to whom I am indebted for two beautiful drawings, from the pencil of Mrs.Telfair; from one of which, the engraving here given is made. These drawings were accompanied by a letter, with the following remarks upon them. "We think a sight of these drawings may induce our excellent friend Mr. Barclay to endeavour to cultivate and vary this beautiful shrub. The variety to be artificially produced is endless, especially in the colour:—the size of the flowers too is very great, and their brilliancy and delicate shading render them objects of great interest to cultivators. With us it grows almost to a tree: and the blossoms are upon it nearly at all seasons of the year." Plants were at the same time sent to Mr. Barclay at Bury Hill, who cultivates them most successfully, and has favoured me both with drawings and dried specimens. Sometimes the shape of the leaves is almost exactly as in H. Rosa-sinensis: at other times, and that very frequently, they are trifid, or tripartite, with the segments laciniated. The flowers are deep red, buff-coloured,and more frequently of a bright and delicate rose colour. The outer calyx, or involucre of De Candolle, is always more erect than in H. Rosa-sinensis: but the column of fructification is not so much declined.

   Curtis's botanical magazine
   By John Sims Published by s.n.,1829


Hibiscus makinoi

Hibiscus makinoi at the Nagai Botanical Gardens, 
in Osaka, Japan. Photo by Jim Mayes
Hibiscus makinoi | Okinawan Hibiscus, Makino's Mallow, Hibisco de Makino, サキシマフヨウ (Sakishimafuyou)

Hibiscus makinoi occurs naturally in western Japan and is distributed from the Ryukyu Islands to western Kyushu, where it can be found growing from coastal plains to more mountainous terrain. In warmer climates, Hibiscus makinoi becomes a small tree (up to 5m) with a woody trunk, but in colder climates tends to grow as a smaller, multi-trunked perennial shrub. In Japan, Hibiscus makinoi, with its large white flowers, is regarded as a harbinger of autumn since flowering usually occurs from September to early November. It is often confused with the widely cultivated Hibiscus mutabilis (which is now escaped in western Japan) but a number of floral characteristics help to distinguish it; with Hibiscus makinoi (as compared to Hibiscus mutabilis), petal length & width, style length, anther to anther distance, anther to stigma distance, and the number of stamens are significantly smaller, and the episepal* width is wider. *episepal: the epicalyx is an extra whorl of calyx-like floral appendages positioned just below the calyx. The individual segments of the epicalyx resemble sepals and are termed episepals.

Hibiscus makinoi was named in honor of Tomitaro Makino (1862-1957) a pioneer of Japanese botany noted for his extensive taxonomic work. He has been called the "Father of Japanese Botany", since he was one of the first Japanese botanists to classify Japanese plants using the binomial system developed by Linnaeus. His research resulted in documenting 50,000 specimens, many of which are represented in Makino's Illustrated Flora of Japan.

Uses: Leaf extract of Hibiscus makinoi has recently been used in the development of skin care products and anti-aging treatments. The extract is alleged to help skin regain a youthful appearance by aiding moisture retention and maintaining natural elasticity.

Hibiscus makinoi and other closely related Asian Hibiscus species belong to section Venusti. It is reported that hybrids have been produced between some section Venusti Hibiscus and all the species of section Muenchhusia (a group of closely related, hardy, perennial Hibiscus species native to North America).

Section Venusti: —a group of a half a dozen (or more) species of Hibiscus from East Asia. The best known is Hibiscus mutabilis, commonly referred to in North America as the Confederate Rose. The recognized species are: Hibiscus indicus, Hibiscus labordei, Hibiscus leviseminus, Hibiscus makinoi, Hibiscus mutabilis and Hibiscus taiwanensis. Unfortunately, there is limited information available on most of these species, so the defining characteristics are not always clear. Moreover, there is a question as to whether they are specifically distinct enough to warrant species status. With further study, it may become apparent that some of these species would be more accurately placed as subspecies of Hibiscus mutabilis.


Hibiscus moscheutos

Hibiscus moscheutos | Swamp Rosemallow, Musk mallow, 芙蓉葵 (Fu Rong Kui)

Hibiscus moscheutos is a cold-hardy perennial found in wetlands and along the riverine systems of the southeastern United States. Its range extends from Texas to the Atlantic states, northward into southern Ontario. In Canada, it is listed as a species of special concern by the Species at Risk Act. There are multiple sub-species, but taxonomic consensus is lacking in regard to nomenclature.

Hibiscus moscheutos often occurs naturally in large colonies. There are numerous forms and petal colors ranging from pure white to deep rose, most having a maroon center. Flowers are born apically, whereas flowers of the related Hibiscus laevis bloom along the stems.

Hibiscus section Muenchhusia: Hibiscus moscheutos is a member of the North American section Muenchhusia, which is composed of hardy, herbaceous, perennial Hibiscus species. Within section Muenchhusia, there are numerous naturally occuring forms as well as flower colors, ranging from pure white to deep red. Additionally, many cultivars have been released through the years into the nursery trade ―many of these cold-hardy Hibiscus cultivars are hybrids of Hibiscus moscheutos, Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus grandiflorus, Hibiscus laevis, Hibiscus palustris and perhaps even Hibiscus dasycalyx. These make an attractive addition to the garden, not only adding visual appeal but also enhancing wildlife value for nectar-feeders and birds. What's more, it now looks like a new era of hybridizing has begun for the cold-hardy Swamp Mallow family. For more infomation, see the following article: "A Blue Flowering Winter-hardy Hibiscus".



Historial Reference: THE ROSE MALLOWS. The large pink-flowered rose mallow, which grows wild in swamps, and is especially abundant near the coast from Massachusetts to Florida and Louisiana, was described by Linnaeus under the name of Hibiscus Moscheutos, the name by which it has since been known ; Linnaeus thought there were two related species, and described the other one as Hibiscus palustris, but it has long been understood that the two plants which he had in mind are but forms of the common pink-flowered species. This plant has been under cultivation for a long time, and is one of the most beautiful and desirable of large hardy perennials, growing quite as well in ordinary soil as it does in its natural habitat in swamps, and flowering freely in August and September.

   Journal of the New York Botanical Garden
   Publisher by New York Botanical Garden, 1903

Hibiscus moscheutos 'Luna Red'

'Luna Red' - a true dark red color.
Hibiscus moscheutos | Swamp Rosemallow, Musk mallow, 芙蓉葵 (Fu Rong Kui)

Hibiscus moscheutos is a cold-hardy perennial found in wetlands and along the riverine systems of the southeastern United States. Its range extends from Texas to the Atlantic states, northward into southern Ontario. In Canada, it is listed as a species of special concern by the Species at Risk Act.

There are multiple sub-species of Hibiscus moscheutos, but taxonomic consensus is lacking in regard to nomenclature. Adding to the confusion is the fact that in the US, Hibiscus moscheutos crosses easily with both Hibiscus laevis and Hibiscus dasycalyx, posing a threat to these species by hybridization and encroachment into their respective ranges.


Luna Red is a seed propagated cultivar, appealing because of its compact, well-branched, shrubby habit. It can grow to almost 1m tall and half as wide with flowers up to 15cm across. The Luna series currently contains four colors: ‘Luna Red’ (deep-burgundy red), ‘Luna Blush’ (white with blush-pink rim and dark-red eye), ‘Luna Pink Swirl’ (pink picotee pattern with a dark eye) and ‘Luna White’ (white with large, red eye). This series is ideal for container plantings as well as landscape uses. Once established, Hibiscus moscheutos can tolerate a variety of environmental conditions.

When grown from seed, it can be beneficial to pinch Hibiscus moscheutos (and the other American Hibiscus as well) prior to or shortly after planting in containers. This is generally a tip pinch, removing only the growing point of the plant, and should leave 4-6 leaves on each branch. Pinching increases lateral branching and the total number of flowers produced on each plant.