Hibiscus: Classification, Characteristics and Uses

Hibiscus is a flowering plant that belongs to the family Malvaceae, also known as mallow family. The Hibiscus flowers are large and showy, and the genus grows into herbs, shrubs or small trees. There are more than hundred species found that are used throughout the world as food and medicine.

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Hibiscus Classification

Kingdom Plantae
Division Tracheophyta
Subdivision Angiospermae
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Malvales
Family Malvaceae
Genus Hibiscus

Characteristics of Hibiscus


  • The Hibiscus flowers are showy and conspicuous.
  • It is usually borne singly but sometimes can be seen in clusters.
  • The flowers are trumpet shaped and range in colours of red, orange, yellow, pink or purple.
  • There are five or more petals in a Hibiscus flower.
  • The most common species, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, has bright red-coloured flowers with a striking orange tipped red anther.
  • The Hibiscus flowers are acidic in taste because they are rich in natural acids and also contain iron, phosphorus, calcium and vitamin B complex.
  • The presence of epicalyx is common.
  • The stamens are fused to form a tube and the pollen grains are spiny in nature.
  • Male structures (the pollen-bearing stamens) of a hibiscus flower are borne on the female structure (pistil). This unfamiliar arrangement is a common sight among members of the family Malvaceae.
  • The fruit is a capsule.


  • The leaves are ovate to lanceolate and are borne alternately.
  • The leaf margin is often lobed or toothed.
  • It may be smooth or covered in trichomes.
  • The fresh leaves contain 2-3% proteins and traces of iron, calcium and phosphorus.


  • The genus thrives in warm, temperate, tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world.
  • The plants follow a perennial or annual life cycle.
  • It is entomophilous, i.e., pollinated by insects.

Common Species

Hibiscus rosa-sinensisIt is a major species of Hibiscus that is commonly known as Chinese hibiscus, china rose, shoeblack plant or rose mallow. It is an ornamental plant.

Hibiscus syriacus It is so named because it was first collected in the gardens of Syria. It is also known as Korean rose and is considered the national flower of South Korea. It is also an ornamental plant.

Hibiscus sabdariffa It is a fibre plant that is commonly known as roselle or Jamaican sorrel. It is used for the production of bast fibre.

Hibiscus cannabinusIt is another fibre plant that is commonly known as kenaf or Deccan hemp. It is used for making paper.

Floral Formula of Hibiscus

The floral formula of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is as follows:

Br Brl ⊕ ⚥ K( 5 ) C( 5 ) A(∞)G(5)

Read More: Floral Formula of Hibiscus


  • Tea made with Hibiscus flowers is served as both cold and hot beverages in many countries. The beverage is full of flavour, tangy and coloured.
  • The seed is full of proteins and antioxidants and is consumed after meals or as an alternative to coffee.
  • The oil extracted from Hibiscus seeds is used in cooking.
  • The extracts of Hibiscus have antihypertensive, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and antipyretic properties but need more scientific backing.
  • Some researchers also claim that extracts from Hibiscus flowers and roots possess an excellent contraceptive effect.
  • The flowers of Hibiscus also find a great deal of usage in Indian Ayurveda.

More about Hibiscus

Hibiscus has more than 300 species that are widespread across subtropical and tropical areas. Most of the species are of ornamental use, some others are said to offer medicinal benefits.

Description of Hibiscus

Often, Hibiscus can usually reach the height in the range of 5’– 6′; tropical Hibiscus can go up to 15′. The hibiscus plants can be used in the form of a tree or as a medium to large shrub. Its green and glossy leaves are alternately organized and several cultivars show toothed margins.

Its flowers are the dominant traits, reaching about 6″ in diameter, and can be seen in a range of colors. Their flowers are bell shaped  with a spirally organized stamen with a distinct pistil. The blooms can have a single or double rows of petals with scalloped or smooth edges. The flowers can be in clusters or borne singly. The flowers of several species last only for a day.

The peduncle (flower stem) is topped by a receptacle which is the part of the stem comprising the flower parts. Tiny green leaf like structures are seen between the flower and the stem, those are the sepals. It is functional in protecting the developing bud.

Soil requirements for Hibiscus

Hibiscus are well suited to drained soils and slightly acidic environments.

Sandy soil – Use generous amounts of decomposed organic matter all through to regulate drainage, aeration and water holding capabilities of the soil.

Heavy clay soil – Use raised beds to prevent intervals of excess moisture.

Difference between Male and Female Hibiscus parts

The pistil (female part of Hibiscus flower) is a tubular, long structure and includes the style, stigma and the ovary which in turn contains the ovules. These structures can be seen in the pistil in the centre of the Hibiscus flower. At the base of the pistil in the ovary which appears as the swollen region. The style is the tube which advances upwards, it holds the stigma. The stigma is present at the top of the pistil trapping the pollen.

Stamen collectively forms the male parts of the Hibiscus flower. The stamen shows the filaments which horizontally emerges from the pistil’s top and the anthers at the terminals of the filaments which produce the pollen. The pollen gets passed to the stigma which then moves down the style finally reaching the ovary.

Some Hibiscus Species

  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (China rose)
  • Hibiscus moscheutos (Rose mallow)
  • Hibiscus denudatus (Rock Hibiscus)
  • Hibiscus trionum (Flower of an hour)
  • Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon)
  • Hibiscus moscheutos (Checkered Hibiscus)
  • Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle)
  • Hibiscus diversifolius (Swamp Hibiscus)
  • Hibiscus lilacinus (Lilac hibiscus)

This sums up the characteristics and uses of the Hibiscus genus. Stay tuned to BYJU’S to learn more important topics related to NEET.

Also Read:

Frequently Asked Questions on Hibiscus flower


What is the hibiscus?

Hibiscus is a genus of several species of shrubs, herbs and trees belonging to the Malvaceae family. It is generally found in the tropical and warm temperate regions. Hibiscus is of immense use as ornamentals due to their showy flowers and also because of their medicinal offerings.

What is the hibiscus flower known for?

The Hibiscus flowers are showy and conspicuous and are known as ornamentals or indoor basket plants. The flower extract can be used to make a tea that is consumed as a beverage.


Why is Hibiscus also called shoe flower plant?

In Asia, Hibiscus is commonly called the shoe flower. The petals of the Hibiscus flower are used to synthesize black dye for shoe polishing. This is the reason why Hibiscus are also called shoe flowers.


Can hibiscus be poisonous to humans?

No, hibiscus is not poisonous to humans.


How long do hibiscus flowers last?

The Hibiscus flowers last only for a single day.


What is the hibiscus flower good for?

Hibiscus flower is known for its soothing and astringent properties, it can aid in boosting the immune system and helps in preventing the damage caused by free radicals in the body. It is believed to significantly decrease the risk of developing several health complications such as diabetes, heart ailments, cancer etc. The popular Hibiscus tea offers anthocyanins (antioxidants) and is said to have antibacterial effects.


What are the different parts of hibiscus plant?

Sepals, petals, stamens and carpels are the floral parts. The sepals appears like a leaf and protecting the flower bud before it blooms open. The perianth comprises the petal and the exterior group of parts of flower. Petals are vibrant attracting bees and pollinators. Stamen comprises stalk, anther and filament. Pistil is the collective term for the female parts of the flower. The style forms the “neck” of the carpal leading to the ovary. The ovary in turn contains the egg or ovule.


Give the classification of china rose.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is colloquially called China rose. Its classification is as follows –
Kingdom: Plantae, Division: Tracheophyta, Subdivision: Angiospermae, Class: Magnoliopsida, Order: Malvales, Family: Malvaceae, Genus: Hibiscus


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