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13. Other Hibiscus Species

Hibiscus arnottianus
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.

Hibiscus calyphyllus
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.
Hibiscus cameronii
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.
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.

Hibiscus coccineus
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. Liberal
'watering and feeding during the summer months are essential for the best blooms.

H. coccineus may be propagated by division or by seed sown in the spring.
Hibiscus glaber
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 compact shape.

Propagates quite readily from firm wood cuttings taken in late spring and planted in coarse river sand, preferably under glass.

Hibiscus huegelii
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..

Hibiscus insularis
Endemic to Phillip Island, a small island 6.4 km from Norfolk Island. (Plate 184)

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.

Hibiscus manihot
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.

Hibiscus moscheutos
Marsh Mallow, Sea Hollyhock, Mallow Rose, Swamp Rose Mallow (Plates 186, 187, 188)
Indigenous to coastal marshes of Georgia and Florida, West to Mississippi.

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 H. moscheutos.

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 borders.

Hibiscus mutablis
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 heavy frosts.

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.

Hibiscus pedunculatus
Found in clearings or lightly shaded situations in Mozambique and South Africa.

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.
Hibiscus trionum
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 purple centre.

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 spring.

Hibiscus sabdariffa
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.

Rosella Jam
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.

Hibiscus schizopetalus
Skeleton Hibiscus, Coral Hibiscus, Fuchsiodes (Plate 190) East Africa, Madagascar.
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.

Hibiscus splendens
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 ones.

H. splendens is grown from seed sown in spring or by firm wood cuttings taken in autumn.

Hibiscus tiliaceus
Cotton Tree, Hau, Cottonwood (Plate 192) Very widespread throughout Tropical Africa, Asia, Australia, Oceana and the Americas.

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 good rains.

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 for earache.

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.

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