hibiscus photoHibiscus or Rosemallow is a large genus of about 200-220 species of flowering plants in the family Malvaceae, native to warm temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. The genus includes both annual and perennial herbaceous plants, and woody shrubs and small trees. The leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to lanceolate, often with a toothed or lobed margin. The flowers are large, conspicuous, trumpet-shaped, with five petals, ranging from white to pink, red, purple or yellow, and from 4-15 cm broad. The fruit is a dry five-lobed capsule, containing several seeds in each lobe, which are released when the capsule splits open at maturity.

Many species are grown for their showy flowers and many are used as landscape shrubs. Hibiscus syriacus (Mugunghwa or "Rose of Sharon") is the national flower of South Korea, while Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Bunga Raya or "Chinese hibiscus") is the national flower of Malaysia. The ma‘o hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei) is the state flower of Hawai‘i.

In temperate zones, probably the most commonly grown ornamental species is Hibiscus syriacus, the common garden Hibiscus, also known in some areas as the "Rose of Althea" or "Rose of Sharon" (but not to be confused with the unrelated Hypericum calycinum, also called "Rose of Sharon"). In tropical and subtropical areas, the Chinese hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis), with its many showy hybrids, is the most popular hibiscus.

Cultivation and uses

One species of Hibiscus, known as Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), is extensively used in paper making. Another, Bissap (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is used as a vegetable and to make herbal teas and jams (especially in the Caribbean).

Extracts of some hibiscus species are claimed to have health benefits, including prevention of Constipation, Bladder infections and Nausea. The studies that yielded these results are debated. An unspecified hibiscus plant is used to make a herbal tea, typically blended with rosehip. Dried Hibiscus petals are used to make a Mexican drink called "Jamaica".

The City of Hibiscus is another name for the city of Chengdu in China.

Interestingly, some varieties such as "Texas Star" look very similar to Marijuana at a glance. In one instance this has led to a police raid!


About 200-220 species are known, including:

* Hibiscus acetosella
* Hibiscus arnottianus - Koki'o
* Hibiscus brackenridgei - Ma'o hau hele
* Hibiscus calyphyllus
* Hibiscus cameronii
* Hibiscus cannabinus - Kenaf
* Hibiscus cisplatinus
* Hibiscus clayi - Hawaiian hibiscus (red)
* Hibiscus coccineus
* Hibiscus diversifolius
* Hibiscus elatus
* Hibiscus furcellatus - 'Akiohala
* Hibiscus fuscus
* Hibiscus grandiflorus
* Hibiscus hamabo
* Hibiscus hastatus
* Hibiscus heterophyllus
* Hibiscus indicus
* Hibiscus kokio - Koki'o 'ula
* Hibiscus laevis - Halberd-leaved rosemallow
* Hibiscus lasiocarpos
* Hibiscus lavaterioides
* Hibiscus ludwigii
* Hibiscus macrophyllus
* Hibiscus militaris - Syn. of Hibiscus laevis
* Hibiscus moscheutos - Common rosemallow
* Hibiscus mutabilis - Cotton rosemallow
* Hibiscus paramutabilis
* Hibiscus pedunculatus
* Hibiscus platanifolius
* Hibiscus radiatus
* Hibiscus rosa-sinensis - Chinese hibiscus
* Hibiscus sabdariffa - Bissap or Omutete or Sorrel
* Hibiscus schizopetalus
* Hibiscus scottii
* Hibiscus sinosyriacus
* Hibiscus syriacus - Hibiscus
* Hibiscus tiliaceus - Hau
* Hibiscus trionum - Flower-of-an-Hour
* Hibiscus waimeae - Koki'o ke'oke'o


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