Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, known
colloquially as the Chinese hibiscus, China rose and shoe flower, is an
evergreen flowering shrub native to East Asia.
It is widely grown as an ornamental plant throughout the tropics and
subtropics. The flowers are large, generally red in the original
varieties, and firm, but generally lack any scent. Numerous varieties,
cultivars, and hybrids are available, with flower colors ranging from
white through yellow and orange to scarlet and shades of pink, with both
single and double sets of petals. Despite their size and red hues
attractive to nectar-feeding birds, they are not visited regularly by
hummingbirds when grown in the Neotropics. Generalists, like the
Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Amazilia lactea, or long-billed species, like
the Stripe-breasted Starthroat, Heliomaster squamosus, are occasionally
seen to visit it, however. In the subtropical and temperate Americas,
hummingbirds are attracted to them on a regular basis.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis was named by Carolus Linnaeus. It has many
names in Chinese: chijin 赤槿、riji 日及、fusang 扶桑、fosang 佛桑、hongfusang
红扶桑、hongmujin 红木槿、sangjin 桑槿、huohonghua 火红花、zhaodianhong 照殿红、songjin
宋槿、erhonghua 二红花、huashanghua 花上花、tuhonghua 土红花、jiamudan 假牡丹 and
zhongguoqiangwei 中国蔷薇. Each of these many names is from a different
state in China, each state having its own name for the plant. It also
has prominent presence in the various part of Indian subcontinent. It
has several names in different languages,Jaswand in Marathi, Bengali: জবা
(Jaba), Sembaruthi-செம்பருத்தி in Tamil, Hindi: गुड़हल, Chemparathy -
ചെമ്പരത്തി in Malayalam, Mondaro in Oriya,Wada Mal in Sinhala, Mamdaram
(మందారం) in Telugu, Kembang Sepatu in Indonesia and Gumamela in
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia, called
Bunga Raya in Malay. Introduced into the Malay Peninsula in the 12th
Century, it was nominated as the national flower in the year 1958 by the
Ministry of Agriculture amongst a few other flowers, namely ylang ylang,
jasmine, lotus, rose, magnolia, and bunga tanjung. On 28 July 1960, it
was declared by the government of Malaysia that the hibiscus would be
the national flower.
The word bunga in Malay means "flower", whilst raya in Malay means
"big" or "grand". The hibiscus is literally known as the "big flower" in
Malay. The red of the petals symbolizes the courage, life, and rapid
growth of the Malaysian, and the five petals represent the five Rukun
Negara of Malaysia. The flower can be found imprinted on the notes and
coins of the Malaysian ringgit.
Hibiscus flower preparations are used for hair care. The flowers
themselves are edible and are used in salads in the Pacific Islands. The
flowers are used to shine shoes in parts of India.It is also a pH
indicator.China rose indicator turns acidic solutions to magenta/dark
pink and basic solutions to green. It is also used for the worship of
Devi and especially the red variety takes an important part in tantra.
In Indonesia, these flowers are called "kembang sepatu", which literally
means "shoe flower".
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is considered to have a number of medical uses
in Chinese herbology.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is one of many plant genera with a genetic
characteristic known as polyploidy, in which there are more than two
complete sets of chromosomes, unlike most other species including human.
Polyploidy is a condition where the phenotype of the offspring may be
quite different from the parent, or indeed any ancestor, essentially
allowing possibly random expression of all (or any) of the
characteristics of all the generations that have gone before. Because of
this characteristic, H. rosa-sinensis has become popular with hobbyists
who cross and recross varieties, creating new named varieties and
holding competitions to exhibit and judge the many resulting new
seedlings and often strikingly unique flowers. To add to the genetic
opportunities, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has been successfully hybridized
with the cold-hardy Hibiscus moscheutos and several other North American
Hibiscus species, producing cold-hardy hybrids (see cold-hardy Hibiscus
Often the progeny of these crosses are sterile, but some are fertile,
further increasing the complexity of variability and the possibility of
a virtually unlimited number of eventual Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
varieties. This further attracts the hobbyists, who have created local
and international associations, societies, publications, and manuals to
further this hobby, which is practiced with these tropical plants
worldwide, including indoors in cold climates.
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)