Australian native hibiscus and hibiscus like species

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Hibiscus splendens is found only in Australia. It was described by Charles Fraser in 1928. He wrote of it "This I consider the king of all the Australian plants I have seen. The flowers are of the most delicate pink and crimson and literally cover the plant".

This beauty is reflected in the name splendens which means splendid or bright.

This Australian hibiscus is found in Queensland and New South Wales. It occurs from Wollongong in New South Wales to Bundaberg in Queensland. It also occurs in central Queensland on the Blackdown Tableland and the Carnarvon Ranges.

It grows as a large shrub reaching 2 to 6 metres. The stem can have a dense or sparse covering of prickles or can be free of them. The large silvery-grey foliage is densely covered with soft velvety hairs which make the leaves feel furry. The leaves vary in shape. The leaves are simple and narrower at the top of the plant but lower down on the plant they may be lobed with three or five deeply-cut lobes.

The large flowers are various shades of pink. On the inside, towards the base of the flower, the colour fades to white and this is continued upwards into the pink of the petals as thick white veins which can be clearly seen. The "eye" at the base of the flower is edged by a narrow red line.

The flowers, which are profuse in early spring to midsummer, are either terminal or in the axils of the last few leaves at the end of the branch. The flowers turn to one side. This is one of the largest-flowering of the Australian native hibiscus with blooms 12 to 18 centimetres in diameter although they can be up to 22 cm.

Hibiscus splendens occurs naturally in open sunny situations or in the sunny understorey of open forest, along the margins of coastal scrubs or of light rainforest. It is found near creeks or if growing on a ridge, it is found in localities where moisture can collect.

In cultivation, it needs well drained soil in either a sunny or semi-shaded position in subtropical and temperate regions. This plant is fast growing. Regular tip pruning prevents plants from becoming sparse. The plant tolerates moderately heavy frosts. This species performs well as a container plant.

The calyx and seed capsule are covered in hairs.
Propagation is from seed sown in spring or by firm wood cuttings taken in autumn.

Beers, L. and Howie, (1985) J. Growing Hibiscus, Kangaroo Press, N.S.W.
Elliot, W.R. & Jones, D.l. (1980-88) Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants Suitable for Cultivation, Vol 5, Lothian, Melbourne.
Lebler, B.A. (1977) Wildflowers of South-eastern Queensland, Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane.
Williams, K. Native Plants of Queensland, Vol. 1, Cranbrook Press, 1979.


Species Map for Australia
Type in Hibiscus

Lists & Lists ... Hibiscus Species, Varieties & Cultivars
Australian Native Hibiscus article, including Hibiscus splendens

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