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Genus Hibiscus Family Malvaceae

Description: Trees, shrubs or herbs with stellate tomentum.

Leaves often lobed, margins usually crenate or toothed.

Flowers usually axillary, solitary. Epicalyx segments 5 or more, free or fused. Calyx 5-lobed. Petals mostly showy with a darker basal spot. Staminal column truncate or 5-toothed at summit with numerous filaments. Ovary 5-locular with usually >3 ovules in each loculus; style branches 5, spreading; stigmas capitate.

Capsule loculicidally 5-valved; seeds glabrous, tomentose or woolly.

Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: 300 species, tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: c. 35 native species, with several others introduced; all mainland States, mostly arid & tropical regions.

Many species are cultivated as ornamentals, resulting in isolated records of some native species outside their natural range. H. cannabinus L. is being grown experimentally in Australia for paper pulp and associated products. H. insularis Endl. is considered endangered on Phillip I. (near Norfolk I.). H. mutabilis L., the Confederate Rose, was erroneously listed as naturalized in Jacobs & Pickard (1981). Ref. Wilson (1974).

Text by A. S. Mitchell & E. H. Norris
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Hibiscus mutabilis

 Key to the species 
1Annual herb or short-lived perennial; calyx membranous and inflated after floweringHibiscus trionum
Trees, shrubs or subshrubs; calyx neither membranous nor inflated after flowering2
2Flowers either more than 5 cm long or if 3–5 cm then yellow; trees or shrubs; areas east of the Divide3
Flowers either less than 3 cm long or if to 3.5 cm then pink; subshrubs; areas west of the Divide except for garden escapes
                       Back to 1
3Epicalyx segments free to the base; stipules linear4
Epicalyx segments united at the base to form a cup; stipules leafy
                       Back to 2
Hibiscus tiliaceus
4Leaves with glands present on dorsal basal midrib; peduncle articulate at the base5
Leaves without glands; peduncle articulate c. 10 mm below flower
                       Back to 3
Hibiscus splendens
5Erect or spreading shrub 1–2 m high, stems with a fine pubescence and interspersed with pricklesHibiscus diversifolius
Erect shrub or small tree to 6 m or more high, glabrous or glabrescent, stems with prickles
                       Back to 4
Hibiscus heterophyllus
6Upper leaves entire; capsule silky7
Upper leaves lobed; capsule glabrous or hairy, but not silky
                       Back to 2
7Indumentum rustyHibiscus sturtii
Indumentum white, velvety
                       Back to 6
Hibiscus krichauffianus
8Small low-growing shrub up to 0.5 m high; corolla 10–15 mm long; capsule glabrousHibiscus brachysiphonius
Shrub 1–3 m high; corolla 30–40 mm long; capsule hairy; garden escape
                       Back to 6
Hibiscus pedunculatus

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