sea hibiscus

Hibiscus tiliaceus

Hibiscus tiliaceus is a large shrub or tree of the family Malvaceae. H. tiliaceus is a common coastal plant native to Eastern and Northern Australia, Oceania and South-East Asia. The plant is also an introduced feral species in several parts of the world including South-Western Australia, Southern Africa and Hawai'i, where it was introduced by the first settlers. H. tiliaceus is known by many thousands of names throughout its range including Hau in Hawaiian, purau in Tahitian, Beach Hibiscus, Tewalpin, Sea Hibiscus and Coastal Cottonwood. H. tiliaceus has a wide environmental tolerance and can withstand saline and infertile soils, drought or conditions of waterlogging and is found in areas with annual rainfall ranging from 800 to over 2000mm.

The blossoms of the H. tiliaceous are bright yellow with a deep red centre upon opening. Over the course of the day, the flowers deepen to orange and finally red before they fall. The branches of the tree often curve over time and the wood has been used for seacraft construction, firewood, wood carving and many other uses. The inner bark of the tree has been used by Hawaiian Polynesians to make rope.

Other uses: This tree has been widely used as a bonsai subject in many asian countries, particularly in Taiwan. Wild specimens collected in the Kenting area, now a national park in Taiwan, are highly prized. Lending itself to free grafting, the leaf size is reduced fairly quickly.


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