Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hibiscus acetosella

Hibiscus acetosella is one of the fall and winter-blooming species of Hibiscus.  This one has dark, maroon-colored leaves to provide spring and summer interest as well.  In the fall, mauve-pink flowers appear.  Like most Hibiscus, each flower lasts only a day, but every day new blooms open.
The plant is fast-growing to 6-8 feet, and has a narrow, lanky growth habit.  If left unpruned, the tall plants usually start to bend over and grow horizontally by late fall and early winter.  To keep a more shrubby, erect habit it is necessary to prune the tip growth several times during the course of the summer.  This will force a more branching habit and sturdier main stem.
Natural unpruned form
Hibiscus acetosella is classified as a perennial shrub for USDA Zones 10-11.  Elsewhere, it can be grown as an annual plant, and they will reseed freely in the garden where the growing season continues into late fall.  Bloom continues through the winter until frost, or in tropical climates, until the day length increases and bud formation stops.
This species is native to Africa, and has many common names, including False Roselle, African Rosemallow, and Red-leaf Hibiscus.
The leaves are edible, with a slightly tart flavor, and can be added to salads or stir-fries for color.  Flowers can be made into a colorful tea, but have little flavor of their own and usually require the addition of  sweeteners and lemon or lime.

5 comments:

Andrea said...

Wow this is beautiful, almost like the H. syriacus, but of course they are sisters. But i haven't seen this species yet here!

Robin said...

I have one hibiscus planted here in zone 6b. I don't know what variety it is since the seeds were given to me by one of my clients. I planted it for my grandson. I thought it was just such a big grand looking red flower. It self seeds and comes back every year.

fer said...

Very beautiful plant! And I really like the photo you took of the flower

Floridagirl said...

That is a lovely hibiscus. Don't think I've ever seen that one before.

mr_subjunctive said...

I've grown one ('Brown Sugar?') indoors, too, briefly. It went fine, but eventually the lanky growth habit, and worries about people looking in the window and misidentifying it as pot, forced me to get rid of it after a few months.

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