Botanical Name Hibiscus heterophyllus
Common Name Native Hibiscus
Family Name Malvaceae
There are Over 250 types of hibiscus, and 35 of these are native to Australia.
The Native Hibiscus grows as a rounded shrub and is generally 1.8m tall when pruned. At Booyong the plants are quite spindly and messy looking, such a contrast to their beautiful flower which often lasts only a day in their native environment.
At Booyong I have been curious of what lay inside the bud of this plant, I was delighted to discover one in flower on a recent walk through the conservation area. Unfortunately on that day I was not carrying my camera, so frustrating. I was delighted though, when walking through with Daintree from Hastings land care a few days later when we discovered another one.
At Booyong the flower is white and they come out in April/May. The colours are dependent upon their environment and in Northern Queensland the flowers are generally bright yellow and flower in December. The flowers are rich in nectar and attract honeyeaters and lorikeets and a variety of insects are also attracted to the plant.
The flowers are edible and can be made into jam and used in raw salads as a garnish. However as with any bush food correct identification and caution is recommended.
Propagation can be achieved by either cuttings or seed with cuttings producing a more desirable form and prolonged flowering. The seed pod is covered in tiny hairs that can cause skin irritation and are quite sharp. I discovered this when I placed some in my pocket to show family back at the cabin and will take a bag next time.
The plant is sometimes grown against a fence or wall in a garden, or in a pot so it can be brought inside during frosty periods.
Like many other native Australian flora Aborigines found practical use for the plant, using the bark fibres to make bags, twine and hunting nets.