Beach Hibiscus

Hibiscus tiliaceus (Malvaceae)

Characteristics

Tree, up to 10 m tall. Flowers bright yellow with a deep red center upon opening. Over the course of the day, the flowers deepen to orange and finally red before they fall. Leaves heart-shaped. “Beach Hibiscus” is commonly found growing on beaches, by rivers and in mangrove swamps. It is well adapted to grow in coastal environment in that it tolerates salt and waterlogging and can grow in quartz sand, coral sand, marl, limestone and crushed basalt.

Distribution

Native to the Old World tropics (Australia, Ozeania, South and Southeast Asia). It has become naturalized in parts of the New World, such as Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Natural Medical  Properties

The flowers and the sap of the plant are widely utilized in a variety of medicines.
The flowers are laxative.
An infusion of the leaves is used to aid in the delivery of a child.
Postpartum discharges are treated with an infusion of the leaves.
The leaves are used in treating coughs and sore throats.
They are made into a paste and used as a poultice for sores, cuts, open wounds, boils and swellings.
The bark and leaves of H. tiliaceus are used medicinally, especially to relieve coughs, sore throats and tuberculosis.
In Tonga, the bark and the young leaves are used to treat skin diseases.
The bark, on its own, is used in treating eye infections and injuries, and stomach-aches.
An infusion of the bark is taken three times if the placenta is retained after the birth of the child.
The fluid from the bark is used to promote menstruation.
The Cook Island Maoris use the bark, together with coconut bark or husk, to make an infusion used for bathing fractures.
In Fiji, the leaves are wrapped around fractured bones and sprained muscles.
Juice from the leaves is used in treating gonorrhoea.
Acetone extracts from the leaves of H. tiliaceus showed antibacterial activity.
A treatment made from the leaves, roots and bark is given for fever.

Did you know?

The specific epithet “tiliaceus” refers to its resemblance of the leaves to those of the related Tilia (“linden tree”) species (same family).

The tree “Beach Hibiscus” is closely related (same genus) to the shrub “Chinese Hibiscus” (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, #55) and to the shrub “Spider Hibiscus” (Hibiscus schizopetalus, #32).

Further reading:

Literature

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