Origin of the Hibiscus
The hibiscus is as beautiful as it is diverse. Although it is believed to have originated in southern China, it was also spotted in the South Pacific and Hawaii early on. It was then introduced into Europe in the 1700′s in a burst of different colors bred by the Chinese and made its way into the United States in 1842 at a flower show in Philadelphia. It then spread widely across the country as a popular catalog order item. Today the striking blossom graces nearly every corner of the earth in one form of variation or the other.
Nature of the Hibiscus
Some of the more delicate forms of the hibiscus live for one single day, blossoming in the early morning and then drawing in their petals again by the late afternoon. Other variations of the hibiscus remain open for two days. Yet the overall nature of this flower is still fragile and its blossom does not tend to live long.
Types of Hibiscus
There are more than two hundred known types of Hibiscus plants They vary in flower color which can be a single tone or a combination one, cone size and foliage, for example, some hibiscus plants grow low and spread horizontally, while other types stand upright and can reach in some instances a height of twenty feet. Generally, a standard potted hibiscus plant will tend to stand at about 4 feet tall. Some are bushy and dense, while others are thin and light.
Some popular types of Hibiscus include:
– The Chinese Hibiscus which despite its name is native to Hawaii. It is known locally as the Pua Aloalo and is the national state flower. Its blossom is commonly used for leis and is highly treasured for its ornamental appeal.
– Molten Lava Hibiscus has a wide variety of colored blossoms
– The pink Hibiscus which includes two types called the Soft Shoulders and Blue Angel Tyes
– The Yellow Hibiscus which includes the Irish Eyes and the Yellow Submarines Styles
– The Arnottianus Immaculatus, which is considered the rarest type. It is characteristically known for its large white flowers and grows on the mountain slopes of Western Oahu. This plant is so rare that it is believed there are no more than ten that are growing in the wild and are thriving independently.
Diverse Uses of the Hibiscus
In addition to having its lovely blossom adorn your home, which is ideally in a cool place even without water, the hibiscus is commonly used in landscaping as an informal hedge or screen. It can stand on its own as a centerpiece for a landscape or can be a background plant for other varieties of blossoms in the yard.
The hibiscus also makes a great indoor potted plant and a gift for flower lovers across the globe. It is especially a great gift because of its tremendous diversity which makes it possible to be selected in the variety of colors of the recipient’s preference or ‘style’ for example, upright or low, many petals or few.
In addition to the aesthetic benefits of the hibiscus, it has been used traditionally for years for its other properties. The Hibiscus Cannabinus, also known as Kenaf, is extensively used in paper-making. The petals of the hibiscus flower are also used in numerous countries around the world to brew tea which is enjoyed hot or cold and believed to have positive health effects. In other countries it is dried and eaten as a delicacy, is sometimes candied for use as a garnish, or a natural food coloring.