Fast-growing shrub, capable of growing to 6 m. Attracts fauna particularly insects (notably Scutelleridae), and therefore insect predators. Host plant for caterpillars of the moths Xanthodes transversa, Anomis combinans and Onebala hibisci. Leaves are up to 200 mm long by 100 mm wide, linear to oval shaped either entire or 3-lobed. Flowers are large, up to 150 mm in diameter. It is fast-growing and in revegetation as a pioneer can provide fast cover, but its soft trunk and branches easily break in storms. Responds well to trimming the lower branches to give access in situations where you need to work the ground underneath. 

Photo: Robert Whyte

Yellow Flower

White, yellow and pink flowering forms grow over an extended range along the Australian east coast, and may well be the same form responding to different soil conditions. This is a yellow flowering form of native hibiscus local to the Enoggera Catchment. Another Australian hibiscus, H. Splendens, is not local.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Foliage and Harlequin Bugs

From a distance (when not flowering), this plant resembles Cannabis sativa (marijuana) and has been used in films when directors have needed an illegal plant.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Flower Bud and Mature Fruit with Harlequin Bug

Fruit are brown, bristly capsules with  five valves bearing numerous seeds, October to March. It helps to abrade the surface of the seeds with sandpaper as this quickens germination. Fibrous bark used by Aborigines for string and bags.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Unfolding Flower

The flowers only last a day or two and often appear in the afternoons after rain. This showy pink and white striped version was flowering in the garden of Greening Australia’s nursery at The Gap.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Flower Bud Close-up

Hibiscus from Greek hibiscos the marsh mallow, Althaea officinalis, heterophyllus from Greek heteroi-os, a, on of a different kind, diverse, or different and phyllon a leaf, referring to the great variation in leaf shape on the same plant.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Flower Emerging Close-up

Hibiscus heterophyllus is popular in revegetation work, but not so favoured in gardens, probably because of the bristly stems, the rather open habit and the irritating fine hairs covering the seed pods.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Spent Flower

Hibiscus heterophyllus self sows readiy in areas where it is planted and can become quite thick and hedge-like, but it is easy to remove if it starts to take over.

Photo: Mark Crocker

Open Flower Close-up

There are more than 300 hibiscus species worldwide, mainly in tropical and subtropical regions.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Flower Closeup – closed

Australia has about 40 hibiscus species.
Photo: Mark Crocker