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Historical Reference: Hibiscus Cameroni (Mr.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