Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is a bushy, evergreen shrub or small tree growing 2.5–5 m tall and 1.5–3 m wide, with glossy leaves and solitary, brilliant red flowers in summer and autumn. The 5-petaled flowers are 10 cm in diameter, with prominent orange-tipped red anthers. Numerous hybrids have been developed in a variety of flower colours.
This is one of many plant species with a genetic characteristic known as polyploidy, in which there are more than two complete sets of chromosomes, unlike most other species. A side effect of polyploidy is a condition where the appearance of the offspring may be quite different from the parent, or indeed any ancestor, essentially allowing possibly random expression of all (or any) of the characteristics of all the generations that have gone before. Because of this characteristic, H. rosa-sinensis has become popular with hobbyists who cross and recross varieties, creating new named varieties and holding competitions to exhibit and judge the many resulting new seedlings and often strikingly unique flowers.
The flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are edible and are used in salads in the Pacific Islands. The flower is additionally used in hair care as a preparation. It is also used to shine shoes in certain parts of India. It can also be used as a pH indicator. When used, the flower turns acidic solutions to a dark pink or magenta colour and basic solutions to green. It is also used for the worship of Devi, and the red variety is especially prominent, having an important part in tantra. In Indonesia, these flowers are called "kembang sepatu", which literally means "shoe flower". In several countries the flowers are dried to use in a beverage, usually tea.
It is widely grown as an ornamental plant throughout the tropics and subtropics. As it does not tolerate temperatures below 10 °C, in temperate regions it is best grown under glass. However, plants in containers may be placed outside during the summer months or moved into shelter during the winter months.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.