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Hibiscus

[hI bis'kus] a genus of about 200-220 species of flowering plants native to warm temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world

The genus Hibiscus includes both annual and perennial herbaceous plants, 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 or more petals, measuring up to 6 inches across. In the wild, hibiscus flowers range in color from white to brilliant red, purple or yellow. The fruit is a dry five-lobed capsule, containing several seeds in each lobe, which are released when the capsule splits open at maturity.

Scientific Classification

division Magnoliophyta
class Magnoliopsida
order Malvales
family Malvaceae

Species and Varieties

The Swamp Rose Mallow, Hibiscus moscheutos, grows wild in marshes in the eastern United States, sometimes growing 7 feet high. It has white or pink flowers 4 to 7 inches across.

swamp rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

The Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, is native to Asia, and is the national flower of South Korea. Gardeners in the United States often cultivate it as a small tree or shrub for borders and background. Its flowers resemble those of the hollyhock.

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

The Chinese Hibiscus, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, is the national flower of Malaysia. It has striking blossoms that the Chinese sometimes use to stain their eyebrows and teeth.

Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa, is used as a vegetable and to make herbal teas and jams, especially in the Caribbean.

Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

Kenaf, Hibiscus cannabinus, is extensively used in paper making.

Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus)

Okra, Hibiscus esculentus, is a summer annual of the vegetable garden. Its sticky pods are used in soups and stews.

Okra (Hibiscus esculentes)

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The Robinson Library >> Science >> Botany >> Flowering Plants >> Family Malvaceae (Mallows)

This page was last updated on May 15, 2017.