Australian native hibiscus and hibiscus like species

Contact Us

Search this site:




Hibiscus World Collection of Australian Native Hibiscus

Australian native hibiscus are now available within Australia.

Note: As at June 2011, Hibiscus World no longer offers the species described on this page. Hibiscus World's contact details have been removed from the article. This page is retained as a reference only.

There is a white flowering form of Hibiscus heterophyllus and a pink flowering form, a gold flowering form of Hibiscus divaricatus and a new plant selected for its apricot flowers, smaller size and extended flowering.

All four are described as not just blooming beautiful, but useful, tough plants which can enhance any style of landscaping.

Two of the plants are selected forms of Hibiscus heterophyllus, one white flowering and the other pink. This species was recorded in 1824 by Allan Cunningham and in 1828 by Charles Fraser. Describing the vegetation along the Brisbane River, Cunningham noted that Hibiscus heterophyllus was very frequent on the immediate bank and "clothed with a profusion" of flowers".

In describing Aboriginal uses of plants around Sydney, Les Robinson notes that the bark of Hibiscus heterophyllus was used for twine, nets and net-bags. In 1844 Ludwig Leichhardt wrote that its strong bark made excellent natural rope.

More recently, the culinary potential of leaves, petals and calyx of Hibiscus heterophyllus has been explored in cooking books such as "Wild Lime" (1996: J. Robins, Allen & Unwin).

Commercial uses have also been investigated. The Rural Industry Research and Development Corporation in "Prospects for the Australian Native Bushfoods Industry", Paper No. 97/22, included Native Rosella, Hibiscus heterophyllus, amongst the fourteen plant species identified as having the most potential. The product is the flower.

Not only is Hibiscus heterophyllus beautiful and useful but it is a hardy plant which grows over an extended range along the east coast from central N.S.W. to Lockhart River. It prefers a moist open spot but adapts to dry conditions and partial shade. It is drought tolerant but should be grown in a sheltered position if frosts occur. It grows successfully from Melbourne to Cairns. Flowering is from spring to summer. The large leaves are dark-green, either simple or lobed and stems are rough or prickly. Native rosella grows as a tall shrub or small tree, 1-5m x 1-3m with a rounded habit. The plant becomes rather sparse but can be developed into a compact bush with regular tip pruning from an early stage. It benefits by being pruned by one-third after flowering.

The third plant is Hibiscus divaricatus which occurs in Queensland. Cultivated plants are very similar to Hibiscus heterophyllus. This species was previously known as Hibiscus heterophyllus ssp. luteus. The form being released was chosen for its bright gold colour and its long flowering period.

The fourth plant in this release is called "Apricot Mist". It has been selected because it is a smaller growing plant (1-2m x 1-2m) which does not require the same amount of space as the other three hibiscus and so can fit into smaller gardens. It also performs well when container grown. The bush is rarely without apricot flowers. The leaves are simple and a lighter green than either Hibiscus heterophyllus or H. divaricatus.

Australian native hibiscus have a role in landscaping.
All these plants are rapidly growing shrubs or small trees that can be used to form a dense screen. They make effective hedges or attractive roadside plantings. They also perform well as a specimen plant since all these species flower prolifically and the flowers show up well against the foliage. Hibiscus combine well with other species. The combinations are endless.

For a yellow theme, Hibiscus divaricatus is complemented by yellow-flowering grevilleas such as Grevillea "Golden Lyre", with Hymenospermum flavum in the background. The white and pink forms of Hibiscus heterophyllus are enhanced by maroon flowering grevilleas and the apricot hibiscus by golden grevilleas and orange-flowering banksias. All these species perform well in containers when new growth is regularly tip-runed.

Hibiscus World Collection of Australian Native Hibiscus
In spite of being beautiful, useful, tasty, with commercial potential, not to mention tough, and with a variety of landscaping uses, Hibiscus heterophyllus has been difficult to obtain, particularly the white and pink forms. To overcome this difficulty, Colleen and Geoff Keena, in conjunction with Hibiscus World, have been collecting, trialling and propagating superior forms of Hibiscus heterophyllus as well as a wide range of other Australian native hibiscus. Further releases of hibiscus and hibiscus-like plants are planned. The next species, in varying forms of flowers and foliage, is Hibiscus splendens described by Charles Fraser in 1928 "as the King of all the Australian plants he had seen".

It is hoped that the release of these Australian native hibiscus will not only make these beautiful, useful and tough plants more readily available but that the landscaping potential of this long ignored family of plants will gain greater recognition in Australian horticulture.

Introduction  |   Articles  |   Species  |   Culinary information
FAQs  |   Links  |   Contact Us  |   Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2000-2011 All rights reserved.
See also our other site The Web Hymns Network -
Featuring a selection of classic hymns performed on piano and organ, with lyrics, free for reuse