Wilder's White, Kokio, Ke'oke'o (Plates 177, 178)
One of the hibiscus species native to the Hawaiian Islands.
H. arnottianus is quite compatible in crossing with H. rosa-sinensis
and has produced many horticultural cultivars. It is also used as an
understock when grafting the exotic hybrids, because it is long-lived,
hardy and resistant to root-rot and borer. A small tree or tall shrub 3 -
8 m (10 - 25 ft) high with a dense crown of foliage, the flowers have an
exquisite fragrance and at the height of the flowering season these shrubs
are very beautiful. Delicate white petals 8 - 10 cm (4 in) long surround a
conspicuous red staminal column 15 cm (6 in) long, with slender stamens
branching off on the upper half or third. The blooms last for two days and
are produced freely on short spurs from older wood. For this reason H.
arnottianus is best left unpruned; however a severe pruning (about
halfway) in spring every four to five years is recommended to keep the
plant healthy and in a nice shape.
The plant sets seed readily and may be grown from seed
sown in the spring. Hardwood cuttings, pencil thickness, devoid of leaves,
12 - 16
cm (5 - 6 in) long, taken in spring and placed in coarse river sand and
peat, strike readily. An open sunny situation is best, with rich sandy
soil. Liberal water and fertiliser should be applied during the flowering
season, which is summer and autumn.
Tropical Africa (Plate 179)
Perennial herb, soft wooden shrub 1 - 2 m (3 - 6 ft)
tall, often prostrate and straggly. The light green leaves are
obscurely to distinctly three to five lobed. The 12 - 15 cm (5 - 6
in) flowers are bright sulphur yellow with a deep brownish or
crimson eye. Although produced prolifically during late spring and
summer the flowers are not very long lived and last only several
hours. This useful plant is often seen as a tub specimen, or in
rockeries where its prostrate habit can be used to advantage.
Easily grown, H. calyphyllus is propagated from soft tip
cuttings taken in summer and planted in coarse river sand preferably
under mist, or by seed sown in spring. An open sunny position and
light sandy soil are best.
Endemic to Madagascar. (Plate 180)
Soft-wooded shrub 1-2 m (3-6 ft) tall. The palmate
3-5-7 lobed leaves are often serrated. The flowers are 7.5-10 cm
(3-4 in) across and usually cup-shaped. The colour varies from soft
apricot pink to flushed pink with spotted rose or reddish purple at
base of petals and distinct veining. There is a close relationship
between H. cameronii and the H.
rosa-sinensis complex of varieties; they may be intercrossed,
and recently scions of H. cameronii were grafted onto H.
rosa-sinensis rootstock with great success.
Suitable for warmer areas only, H. cameronii
is an attractive free flowering shrub that requires light pruning
occasionally. It is grown from soft tip cuttings taken in summer or
by seed sown in Spring, and grafted onto hardy rootstock. A sunny
aspect and light sandy soil is best. H. cameronii is very
susceptible to root-rot in poorly drained soils.
Coastal swamps of Florida and Georgia. (Plate 181)
One of the most attractive of the herbaceous perennial
species of hibiscus with brilliant red, large flowers, produced during
summer and autumn on erect growth to 2 m (6 ft). Leaves are long-
3 - 5 - 7 parted or compound, sometimes deeply toothed and varying
from dark green to reddish purple. The flowers are 12 - 20 cm (6 - 8
in) across and are produced on long pedicels in the upper leaf axils.
The petals are deep red, usually not overlapping one another,
revealing a contrasting light green calyx.
H. coccineus is not as hardy as many other herbaceous hibiscus,
and in colder climates it may be carried through the winter by lifting
and storing the roots in a cellar or cold frame. Like the `Southern
Belle' types it should be protected from strong winds, and prefers a
sheltered position with full sun and a rich, well-drained soil.
'watering and feeding during the summer months are essential for the
H. coccineus may be propagated by division or by seed sown in
Islands in the Okinawa group. (Plates 182, 183)
Branching shrubs 2 - 3 m (6 - 10 ft) tall, differing
from H. tiliaceus by leaf and petal conformation. The heart-shaped
leaves are usually light green, contrasting with the bright-yellow 6
- 8 cm (2 - 3˝ in) flowers. These flowers all have a purplish red
basal spot and deepen to orange as they age. There is a special
variation of H. glaber with larger, deep purplish brown
foliage which is even more attractive.
The plant does well in all but frosty areas, but prefers coastal
conditions where it will tolerate salt-laden winds. Suitable as a
specimen plant or for hedging, H. glaber is also useful for
street plantings. It prefers full sun and a rich, well-drained soil
with plenty of summer water and fertiliser. Main flowering season is
summer and autumn. Prune occasionally, only when necessary to keep a
Propagates quite readily from firm wood cuttings taken in late
spring and planted in coarse river sand, preferably under glass.
Blue Hibiscus. Now known as Alogyne huegelii Western Australia.
Soft hairy shrubs 1 - 2 m (3 - 6 ft) tall. Leaves
thickish, green above and below, deeply 3 - 5 lobed and parted,
sometimes broadly toothed. The 12 - 16 cm (5 - 7 in) blooms are
produced freely in late spring and early summer. The blooms may vary
from a lilac blue to a purplish red and be with or without a deep
purple-red basal spot. The filaments on the staminal column are in
distinct whorls near the base.
Commonly known as `Desert Rose' in some places, this species
requires hot, dry conditions to perform well. In warm, humid areas
it suffers badly from rootrot; however it may be possible to graft
it onto a compatible rootstock that is more resistant. Light, sandy,
well-drained soil is best, with full sun or partial shade.
Propagate from seed sown in spring or by soft tip cuttings taken in
summer and put in coarse river sand under mist..
Endemic to Phillip Island, a small island 6.4 km from Norfolk Island.
A dense bushy shrub to 4 m (12 ft). The light green foliage
is small, rounded and crenate. The 6 - 9 cm (2˝ - 3˝ in) blooms are
produced freely in late summer and autumn. The blooms have pale lemon
petals arising from a purplish crimson centre, which turn to a light
purplish rose with age, both coloured blooms persisting on the bush. The
bright crimson stigma pods are very pronounced for a small flower.
It is interesting to note that Phillip Island has never been inhabited by
man; however goats, pigs and rabbits were landed there to provide a source
of meat in years gone past for shipwrecked sailors. Now only a few native
plants remain and they are prevented from regenerating by the wild rabbit.
H. insularis was down to three or four bushes, and was in danger of
extinction until some wood was sent to the Sydney Botanical Gardens. H.
insularis is now well established in cultivation.
The plant is ideal for growing in coastal areas as it is reasonably salt
resistant. It makes a fine hedge plant and windbreak. H. insularis prefers
full sun and seems to be happy in all but poorly drained soils. Light
pruning only is required to keep the plant in a nicely rounded shape.
Propagate from firm wood cuttings taken in late spring
and from seed sown in spring.
Now known as a Abelmoschus manihot. Tropics. Plate 185.
A tall herbaceous perenniel to 2 m (6 ft), sprinkled with a
few pungent, bristly hairs. The leaves are deeply pinnate, lobes 5 - 9,
more or less toothed. The large flowers up to 30 cm (12 in) are a
brilliant lemon yellow with a deep purple eye. These are produced on long
pedicels on mature wood at the apex of the plant in autumn. The seed
capsules produced after the flowers are very hairy, and the stiff, bristly
hairs can cause severe discomfort to the unwary or allergy prone. The
large blooms are easily damaged by wind and last only a few hours.
H. manihot prefers a sunny aspect with rich moist soil. Propagated by root
division or by seed sown in spring.
Marsh Mallow, Sea Hollyhock, Mallow Rose, Swamp Rose Mallow
(Plates 186, 187, 188)
Indigenous to coastal marshes of Georgia and Florida, West to
The herbaceous perennial species of hibiscus native
to the United States are all handsomely flowered, but except for
H. coccineus are rather coarse plants which often seem out of
place in restricted or small perennial borders. For this reason they
are not encountered as frequently as one might expect from the
showiness of the flowers alone.
Although H. moscheutos is still offered commercially, the
most commonly listed forms are the F.1. hybrids, known as `Southern
Belle' and `Dixie Belle'. These originated from the 'Meehan Mallow
Marvels' developed by a Mr E.S. Hemming towards the turn of the
century. In this case H. coccineus was crossed with H.
militaris, and an individual of this cross was in turn crossed with
Progeny from this cross had flowers varying in size from
10 to 25 cm (4 - 10 in) in diameter, in colours ranging from white through
pink to deep red, often with a deeper eye at the centre. Selections of
these progeny were introduced to the trade about 1908.
A similar hybridisation program involving the same three parents was
commenced in the early 1950s, and the results were collectively termed
'Avalon Hybrids'. Selected forms of these hybrids were crossed with H.
moscheulos and H. grandiflorus to produce the giant flowering
`Southern Belle' strains with blooms up to 30 cm (12 in) across.
These soft wooded perennials require protection from strong winds, and
staking similar to dahlias is necessary to prevent wind damage. They
prefer an open sunny aspect, with rich well drained but moist soil.
Liberal water and fertiliser should be applied during the flowering season
to maintain the size of the flowers and to strengthen the tuberous root
system, thus ensuring healthy young growth the following season. The
plants begin to lose their leaves in 'autumn, but the old stems should not
be cut off until they turn brown. Wait until the green disappears
completely before cutting several inches above ground level. The new
shoots in spring are very soft and sappy and subject to insect damage,
particularly from loopers and other caterpillars. Care should be taken at
this time to prevent injury to the growing tips. Use spraying control as
described for the H. rosa-sinensis types.
H. moscheutos hybrids are easily grown from seed sown in spring,
usually flowering the first season. Fresh seed germinates readily.
Selected varieties may be propagated by root division or tip cuttings.
Tolerant of frosts, these hardy plants are cultivated over a much wider
range of climates than the H. rosa-sinensis hybrids. The `Southern
Belle' types attain a height of 2 m (6 ft), and the `Dixie Belle' up to 1
m (3 ft). Both are ideal for massed bed plantings or in herbaceous
Rose of Sharon, Confederate Rose, Cotton Rose (Plate 189)
Native to Southern China, Taiwan and Japan.
Small deciduous trees 5 - 6 m (15 - 20 ft) in height,
covered with down and with large, downy, hairy, five to six pointed
toothed leaves. The 10 - 15 cm (4 - 6 in) blooms are of two forms, single
and double. The single flower is cup shaped and of nice form, whilst the
double is full and fluffy. The name mutablis means changeable and refers
to the bloom which is pure white upon opening in the morning but during
the day changes to pink and red; often the whole bush is covered with the
varying shades of each colour. In Japan this hibiscus is called Fuyo
and symbolises a fascinating but fickle woman.
H. mutablis flowers in autumn, and neither single
nor double forms cross with other kinds of hibiscus. This species requires
an open sunny aspect with rich well drained soil. Severe pruning in winter
is recommended (about halfway) to ensure strong healthy growth and a nice
rounded shape. H. mutablis is very hardy and will withstand quite
Propagation is by hardwood cuttings, about 10 - 12 mm (˝ in) thick, 12 -
15 (5 - 6 in) long, taken in winter and planted in coarse river sand.
Found in clearings or lightly shaded situations in Mozambique and
Small soft-wooded shrubs to 1 or perhaps 2 m (3 - 6
ft) tall. The upper branches herbaceous, with small hairy foliage,
usually three lobes. H. pedunculatus produces masses of small 6 - 8
cm (2 - 3 in) rose-purple blooms over a long period. Occasionally
offered commercially as both flowers and foliage are pleasing; it is
perhaps worthy of more general cultivation particularly in warmer
areas. In some cooler areas it may be grown as a late summer
flowering annual. Grown from seed sown in spring.
Bladder Ketmia, Flower-of-an-Hour. Widespread in warm regions of the
old world from Southern Africa, Australasia and Asia.
Erect or straggling annual herbs to 60 - 80 cm (1˝ - 2
ft). Leaves are generally three lobed or parted, the lobes pinnately
incised to deeply toothed. Flowers are solitary on axillary pedicels,
the corolla 5 - 8 cm (2 - 3 in) across, white, cream or yellow with a
H. trionum is cultivated to a limited extent and may be found
as a casual weed in waste places and near gardens. It is commonly
known as Flower-of-an-Hour, referring to the nature of the flowers
which open mid or late morning and close by early afternoon. A
selected strain of H. trionum named `Sunny Days' has been
offered by seedsmen recently, and has proved very popular for massed
bedding displays. This handsome annual is easily grown when provided
with full sun and a rich, well-drained soil. Grown from seed sown in
Widely distributed throughout the tropics and sub-tropics, but probably
native to tropical Africa where its closest relatives
An erect annual to biennial to 2 m (6 ft), with small
leaves, usually three lobed. The stems are glabrous, reddish or reddish
purple. The flowers are small, about 8 cm (3 in), petals light yellow or
sometimes lightly diffused with pink, with a deep red basal spot. The
calyx becomes enlarged and fleshy in fruit to 3 cm (1 %, in) long, turning
bright red with an acid flavour. These calyces are used to prepare Rosella
jam, a confection not unlike cranberry sauce.
Roselle enjoyed a brief span of popularity as a commercial crop in
Queensland in the late nineteenth century where two preserving
factories were in operation to make jam from the calyces. Seeds, leaves
and shoots, as well as the calyces, are used as food, and the
juice from the calyces is sometimes expressed to make a fresh or fermented
drink in the Carribeen areas.
Although the plant is a true biennial it is much better when treated as an
annual and grown from fresh seed each season. It prefers the
warmer areas only and will not tolerate frost. Should be grown in a warm
sunny position with rich well drained soil.
Cut the stalks off at the base of the husk and push the seed cases out of
the husk (calyx).
Put seeds and stems on to boil with sufficient water .to cover for half an
hour. Strain and measure the liquid.
Weigh husks, boil them in the liquid for half an hour, then add warmed
sugar allowing one cup for every cup of liquid and 0.5 kg (1
lb) for every 0.5 kg (1 lb) of husks.
Boil quickly for about twenty minutes or until it jells. Pour into jars
and seal while hot.
Skeleton Hibiscus, Coral Hibiscus, Fuchsiodes (Plate 190) East
Schizo-split, petalus-petals, refers to the split petals.
An evergreen to semi-deciduous shrub to 4 m (12 ft).
The small leaves are produced in clusters on long slender branches.
The flowers are pendulous, solitary on single pedicels up to 16 cm (6
in) long, more or less streaked with pink or reds They are recurved
and lacinate into many linear-oblong segments, with the staminal
column about 9 cm (4 in) long, conspicuously exerted, with filaments
arising over the upper one-third. It has been said that the staminal
column `hangs suspended as if by a silken thread' and this would truly
describe the delicate
nature of the flower.
H. schizopetalus is a popular ornamental subject throughout the
tropics and in colder climates is often grown in
glasshouses. This species has been used as the male parent in crosses
with H. rosa-sinensis and also with the red and white flowered
Hawaiian species of hibiscus. The progeny of such crosses usually have
lacinate or crenate petals, but not nearly to the degree evidenced in
H. schizHibiscus x archerii (H. rosa-sinensis x H.
schizopetalus) is representative of such a cross.
The plants appear to bloom better if left unpruned as
most flowers are produced on short spurs from the older wood, however a
good pruning every three to four years is necessary to keep the plant
healthy. Culture is the same as for the H. rosa-sinensis types, although
this species does require a little more warmth in temperate areas. Good
drainage is essential as it does suffer from `wet feet'. Propagate from
hard wood cuttings in spring preferably under glass.
Holly Hock Tree (Plate 191) East Coast of Australia.
A large shrub or small tree to 7 m (23 ft); items are covered with a dense
velvety pubescence. The large deeply 3 - 5 lobed leaves become
simple and narrower toward the apex of the plant. The large 20 cm (8 in)
blooms are produced in spring and summer. These blooms are soft
rose to pale pink with crimson colouring at the base of the style. The
wine-coloured anthers and stigmas combine to produce a bloom of
exquisite beauty. Hence the name splendens from the latin adjective
splendidus meaning splendid or bright.
Charles Fraser the colonial botanist who first found the plant in 1828 and
sent seeds to the Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh, wrote of it: `This I
consider King of all Australian plants I have seen.The flowers are the
most delicate pink and crimson and literally cover the plant.' A welcome
addition to any hibiscus collection, H. spendens tolerates
cultivation very well and is easily grown in areas sheltered from strong
winds. It naturally occurs as a rainforest plant and is found in deep
gullies and gorges with rich fertile well drained soil. It does not mind
semi-shade and will usually do well when competing with other plants.
Being an Australian native it prefers organic fertilisers to chemical
H. splendens is grown from seed sown in spring or
by firm wood cuttings taken in autumn.
Cotton Tree, Hau, Cottonwood (Plate 192) Very widespread
throughout Tropical Africa, Asia, Australia, Oceana and the
Tilia is the latin name for the linden
tree; the leaves of the Cotton Tree are similar in shape to those of
the linden, thus the reason for' the choice of the specific name.
The common name Cotton Tree is probably used because of the
resemblance of its flowers to those of the shrub Gossypium from
which commercial cotton is obtained.
A spreading evergreen tree to 9 m (30 ft), which spreads to 16 m (50
ft). The blooms are 8 - 10 cm (3 - 4 in) across and are bright lemon
yellow and distinctly veined. At the base of each petal on its inner
surface is a large crimson blotch. The flowers are rarely held erect
but tend to turn to one side or face downwards. Individual flowers
last two days, and on the second day the bloom changes colour to an
orange or brownish pink, and finally the corolla falls entirely from
the tree. Blooming from early summer to the end of autumn, H.
tiliaceus is most prolific in mid-summer, particularly after
Cotton Trees are often planted as street trees because
they are such good spreading shade trees, and at their best when planted
in large gardens or parks, where growth is not restricted. It is also very
tolerant of salt air and will do very well in coastal plantings.
It has been recorded that some Queensland Aborigines used the roots and
young shoots as food, and the fibre of the bark for fishing lines and
nets. The fibrous inner bark was one of the commonest raw materials in the
manufacture of tapa cloth throughout the Pacific Islands. The wood is used
for out riggers of canoes, parts of cart, handles and household
implements. It to reported to be used in the West Indies for cabinet work,
flooring, panelling and fancy work. In India it is used as fuel. It can
also be used in place of walnut for gunstocks. An infusion of the leaves
is used as a lotion for ulcers and wounds; the leaves are considered
laxative and resolvent. Flowers are boiled in milk and used as a remedy
H. tiliaceus requires a warm situation with liberal watering during
summer. It is propagated from seed sown in spring. Selected strains may be
grafted onto seedling stock to ensure good flowering habits.