The hibiscus is thought to have originated in South China. It has been cultivated in China, Japan and the Pacific Islands. There are two species thought to be native to Hawaii, including the Hibiscus arnottianus and Hibiscus waimeae, and there are approximately 300 related species of hibiscus in the world.
The hibiscus is a small evergreen shrub tree. The bark of the tree is light grey. The leaves are ovate and have long stalks. The flowers are single and bisexual and may be white, red or yellow. The ovoid fruits may have up to 20 seeds. Hibiscus flowers are used in dyes, food and medicine.