Hibiscus

Hibiscus rosa-senensis (Malvaceae)

Characteristics

Bushy, evergreen shrub or small tree, up to 5 m. Glossy leaves and solitary, brilliant red flowers. 5-petaled flowers are 10 cm in diameter, with prominent orange-tipped red anthers. Despite its size and red hues, which are attractive to nectarivore birds, it is not visited regularly by hummingbirds when grown in the Neotropics.

Distribution

Native probably to East Asia, widely grown as an ornamental plant in the tropics and subtropics. It is not known in the wild, so that its native distribution is uncertain, an origin in some part of tropical east Asia is likely

Natural Medical Properties

Chinese hibiscus is a sweet, astringent, cooling herb that checks bleeding, soothes irritated tissues and relaxes spasms.
The flowers are aphrodisiac, demulcent, emmenagogue, emollient and refrigerant.
They are used internally in the treatment of excessive and painful menstruation, cystitis, venereal diseases, feverish illnesses, bronchial catarrh, coughs and to promote hair growth.
An infusion of the flowers is given as a cooling drink to ill people.
The leaves are anodyne, aperient, emollient and laxative.
A decoction is used as a lotion in the treatment of fevers.
A preparation from the leaves is used to treat postpartum relapse sickness, to treat boils, sores and inflammations.
The leaves and flowers are beaten into a paste and poulticed onto cancerous swellings and mumps.
The flowers are used in the treatment of carbuncles, mumps, fever and sores.
The root is a good source of mucilage and is used as a substitute for Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) in the treatment of coughs and colds.
A decoction of the root is used to treat sore eyes.
A paste made from the root is used in the treatment of venereal diseases.

Did you know?

The flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are edible and are used in salads in the Pacific Islands.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species