Friday, September 24, 2010
Synonyms: False Roselle, African Rose Mallow
You can imagine my surprise upon coming upon this plant while hiking the wilds of central Maui last winter. It was growing as a wildflower but is actually native to central and eastern Africa. So it was a long way from home but since it grows easily from seed it was probably an escapee from a garden. The leaves on this plant seem to be tasty to insects like most of the 200 other species of Hibiscus. That is too bad as the foliage is the most dramatic part of Red-Leaf Hibiscus, although the flowers are a nice shade of red.
Red-Leaf Hibiscus is a tall plant that is tender in northern zones. It can grow so fast that it will flop or spilt so it sometimes requires the extra work of staking, which is well worth the effect it can produce in the garden.