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Hibiscus makinoi
 
Hibiscus makinoi | OkinaHibiscus makinoiwan Hibiscus, Makino's Mallow, Hibisco de Makino, サキシマフヨウ (Sakishimafuyou)

Hibiscus makinoi occurs naturally in western Japan and is distributed from the Ryukyu Islands to western Kyushu, where it can be found growing from coastal plains to more mountainous terrain. In warmer climates, Hibiscus makinoi becomes a small tree (up to 5m) with a woody trunk, but in colder climates tends to grow as a smaller, multi-trunked perennial shrub. In Japan, Hibiscus makinoi, with its large white flowers, is regarded as a harbinger of autumn since flowering usually occurs from September to early November. It is often confused with the widely cultivated Hibiscus mutabilis (which is now escaped in western Japan) but a number of floral characteristics help to distinguish it; with Hibiscus makinoi (as compared to Hibiscus mutabilis), petal length & width, style length, anther to anther distance, anther to stigma distance, and the number of stamens are significantly smaller, and the episepal* width is wider. *episepal: the epicalyx is an extra whorl of calyx-like floral appendages positioned just below the calyx. The individual segments of the epicalyx resemble sepals and are termed episepals.

Hibiscus makinoi was named in honor of Tomitaro Makino (1862-1957) a pioneer of Japanese botany noted for his extensive taxonomic work. He has been called the "Father of Japanese Botany", since he was one of the first Japanese botanists to classify Japanese plants using the binomial system developed by Linnaeus. His research resulted in documenting 50,000 specimens, many of which are represented in Makino's Illustrated Flora of Japan.

Uses: Leaf extract of Hibiscus makinoi has recently been used in the development of skin care products and anti-aging treatments. The extract is alleged to help skin regain a youthful appearance by aiding moisture retention and maintaining natural elasticity.

Hibiscus makinoi and other closely related Asian Hibiscus species belong to section Venusti. It is reported that hybrids have been produced between some section Venusti Hibiscus and all the species of section Muenchhusia (a group of closely related, hardy, perennial Hibiscus species native to North America).

Section Venusti: a group of a half a dozen (or more) species of Hibiscus from East Asia. The best known is Hibiscus mutabilis, commonly referred to in North America as the Confederate Rose. The recognized species are: Hibiscus indicus, Hibiscus labordei, Hibiscus leviseminus, Hibiscus makinoi, Hibiscus mutabilis and Hibiscus taiwanensis. Unfortunately, there is limited information available on most of these species, so the defining characteristics are not always clear. Moreover, there is a question as to whether they are specifically distinct enough to warrant species status. With further study, it may become apparent that some of these species would be more accurately placed as subspecies of Hibiscus mutabilis.

 

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