English names: Chinese hibiscus, China rose
Latin name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Family: Mallows - Malvaceae
Origin: East Asia
The hibiscus is a shrub or small tree that grows 2 -5 metres tall, and up to 3 metres wide. The leaves are single, 5 to 20 cm. long, ovoid, pointed, smooth-edged at the base and serrated towards their tips. They are dark green, hardy, smooth and shiny. Sometimes leaves of different shapes appear on a single shrub, often curled or deformed, which does not necessarily signify disease or pests. The plant may change its leaves throughout the year. The flowers are large and may be purple, red or white, of a single colour or mottled. The flowers are large and trumpet-shaped. The flowers appear on year-old shoots, though spindle-shaped buds may appear on older shoots. The hibiscus blooms most readily from May to October, but flowers may be found throughout the year. Each flower lives little longer than a day.
The plant was brought to Europe in 1731. It was initially grown by collectors of tropical plants, and then gained worldwide popularity. In climates such as Poland’s it may be cultivated in greenhouses or indoors as a potted plant. They may live indoors from two to five years, and on verandas or winter gardens more than 20 years. A healing plant, due to its pleasantly sharp taste it is an ingredient in many herbal tea blends. Refreshing, it is also used in preparations that facilitate digestion. It strongly absorbs water and after it is brewed, the leaves are twice as big.