Hibiscus pentaphyllus

Distribution Map
Family: Malvaceae
Distribution: Northern Australia (Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland) along stream banks and floodplains.
Common Name: No generally accepted common name
Derivation of
Name:
Hibiscus...from Greek, hibiskos, the marsh mallow, a malvaceous plant that grows in marshy conditions.
pentaphyllus... From Greek pente, five and phyllon, a leaf, referring to the (generally) 5-lobed leaves.
Conservation
Status:
Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Hibiscus is a genus which is well known in horticulture through the many exotic species and cultivars, principally Hibiscus rosa-sinensis which has thousands of registered cultivars. Overall there are more than 300 Hibiscus species which occur mainly in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Australia has about 40 native species, most of which are endemic. There are also a number of closely related genera in Australia with Hibiscus-like flowers. These include Abelmoschus, Alyogyne, Gossypium, Howittia and Lagunaria.

Hibiscus pentaphyllus
Hibiscus pentaphyllus
Photo: Geoff Keena

Hibiscus pentaphyllus is a small shrubby annual to about 1.5 metres high by a similar width. The leaves are up to 70 mm long by 50 mm wide and deeply lobed. The flowers are bright yellow with a central maroon or brown blotch. They are about 75 mm in diameter of typical hibiscus shape.

   Seed pods of Hibiscus pentaphyllus
  

Seed pods of
Hibiscus pentaphyllus


In common with most Hibiscus species, the individual flowers last only 1-2 days but new flowers continue to open over a long period, generally in summer and autumn. The flowers are followed by hairy seed capsules containing a number of seeds.

Hibiscus pentaphyllus is not in widespread cultivation but it has potential as a colourful annual for tropical and sub-tropical areas. It should perform best is a sunny position with well drained soils.

In common with the exotic hibiscus cultivars, hibiscus beetles may be a problem. These can be controlled by placing white icecream containers with detergent water among the hibiscus plants and putting fresh water and detergent in the containers every few days.

Propagation from seed is relatively easy and no special pretreatment is needed although germination will be faster if seed is abraded or soaked before planting. Cuttings should also strike readily.


For further information on Australian Malvaceae, see the Australian Native Hibiscus and Hibiscus-like Species website.

Thanks to Jim Purdie for the hint on using detergent water to trap hibiscus beetles.


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