What Are The Varieties Of Hibiscus: Types Of Hibiscus

There are a number of different types of hibiscus plants, and each one has its own unique flavor. This article will briefly explain the different types of hibiscus plants and their flavors before going into detail about the various flavors of rooibos tea.

Hibiscus Sabdariffa

It is sometimes known as roselle (which is also a synonym for Hibiscus genus in general), although it does not have any relation to the rose family of plants. As its name suggests, Hibiscus Sabdariffa produces a red infusion that is commonly used to make the well known "red tea" or "tarka dahl". Its flavor is noticeably fruitier than any other type of hibiscus, with a slight tang.

Hibiscus Sabdariffa is native to northern Africa and tropical regions of the Middle East. However, it has since been introduced to the United States, where it particularly thrives in Florida.

Hibiscus Sabdariffa is itself a subspecies of Hibiscus cannabinus (Wild Red Sorrel) and contains large amounts of roselle anthocyanins and emodin.

Hibiscus Macranthus

Hibiscus Macranthus is known as a white tea, or sometimes simply "hibiscus tea". It is native to Japan, but has been introduced into the United States. White hibiscus tea is frequently added to green teas to create a "blended tea" that is both sweet and floral.

Hibiscus Macranthus contains a high concentration of polyphenols, which make it a very potent antioxidant.

Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis

Usually known as Chinese Hibiscus, this type of hibiscus plant produces a darker infusion than its cousin Hibisco Sabdariffa. Its color ranges from light brown when steeped for short periods of time to a very dark brown when steeped for longer periods of time. Its flavor is like that of red tea, but with a slightly sweetness, similar to that of hawthorn berries.

Chinese hibiscus is native to Asia, particularly China. It has been introduced into the United States and other parts of the Western world, but is not as widespread as its cousins.

This hibiscus plant also contains roselle anthocyanins and emodin in large amounts, although perhaps at lower concentrations.  

Hibiscus Mutabilis

The Mutabilis is a species of Hibiscus with large oval leaves and pink flowers with darker red centers. It has a bent stem, much like the Althea. The Mutabilis was originally native to China. It is used in alternative medicine, and can be brewed for tea.

The Mutabilis is a popular ornamental plant. It has been grown since the 19th century, although it saw only limited usage as an ornamental plant until recently.

The Mutabilis is an herbaceous perennial plant with a large oval-shaped leaves. The leaves are green on top and covered in short hairs, but white underneath. In some areas, the Mutabilis has escaped into the wild through human diffusion and has naturalized.

Hibiscus Syriacus

Syriacus is a hibiscus species that has been cultivated for hundreds of years. The flower color ranges from scarlet to crimson red, though the latter is more common in cultivation. It has large leaves and produces abundant petals on each individual blossom [also called "bracts"].

The Syriacus originated from Tropical Africa and Asia, where the plant can be found growing naturally without human assistance. Wild plants can reach up to 20 feet in height, though cultivated versions will not exceed ten feet. The Syriacus flower is a double-flowered variety of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, so it has many similarities with its parent species.

The leaves are covered in fine hair, and the flower contains five petals. The flower is dissected into three sections; sepals, corolla, and stamens. These have a distinct red or pink coloration as well as yellow tips.

The blossom consists of many petals (bracts) that surround small staminodes and a central disk, from which the petals emerge. The disk has a five-pointed shape and is marked with radial lines of color that extend to the base. The fruit of the Syriacus is a dry capsule containing numerous seeds.

Hibiscus Esculentus

The hibiscus esculentus is a species of hibiscus grown for the first time in China's Sichuan Province. The flowers are edible and can be cooked with rice in a floral fragrant soup called Hua jiao nai; they are also often used to garnish plates of cold dishes.

The plant originated in Japan, and cultivation began there in the Heian period. It was brought into China from Vietnam by traders along the Nanzhao-Dayan route via Hanoi. The flower is first known to have appeared in Chinese literature in the Poems of Chu from the third century. The earliest record of its cultivation is attributed to Song Dynasty Minister Sun Simiao (C.E. 612-90).

The hibiscus esculentus has a deep red coloration that appears as both stamens and petals emerge together from the disk, which is marked with a dark purple hue. The petals are thick and resemble the leaves of the plant. The fruit is a cap that covers the capsule-like style, which allows for seed dispersal; it is yellow and contains many seeds.

Rock Hibiscus

The rock hibiscus is an annual plant with blue-violet flowers and a bent growth habit. It can be grown as a medicinal herb, though it is rarely used for this purpose today. The blossom has no scent.

The rock hibiscus is native to the northwestern United States, where it can still be found in the wild. The blossom has a sweet flavor, though it can be toxic. Despite this, the plant is sometimes consumed as an herbal tea or a flower garnish.

The plant has a biennial life cycle, meaning that it takes two years for the blossom to bloom. It is popular in cultivation because it is so easy to grow and tends to flower abundantly.

The rock hibiscus can reach heights of up to seven feet with a sprawling growth habit. The leaves are light green on top and white on the bottom, and they appear alternately spaced along the stem. The flower has an oval shape with a dark blue-violet coloration, and it contains five petals. The fruit is a tiny blackish berry that grows in bunches under each blossom.

Hibiscus Trionum

It was well-known in the colonial south, common in gardens, and grown for its attractive flowers. This shrub bears fragrant yellow flowers from July to September. The leaves are irregularly toothed or lobed, dark veined, and velvety. The plant can grow to 15 feet tall with the same width.

The flowers are tubular and grow up to ¾ inch in diameter, they can be 4 inches in length with 10 petals.

There are three hibiscus plants that have the name trionum: Hibiscus Trionum , Hibiscus Moscheutos , and Hibiscus Syriacus . All of these plants are native to the United States. The hibiscus plant is a flowering perennial or shrub which comes from the Hibisaceae family, and there are over 3,000 species of these plants worldwide.

Black Dragon Hibiscus

It is a small to medium sized evergreen shrub that can grow up to 8 feet tall. The leaves are dark green, glossy and leathery with an entire margin while the flowers are produced throughout the year. It bears white flowers which become orange when in full bloom.

All parts of this plant are known to be poisonous except a decoction made from the root. It is native to Taiwan and it is a flowering shrub which belongs to the Malvaceae family. The plant has medicinal purposes, especially for the treatment of asthma, as well as a gargle for sore throats.

Black Hibiscus

It was brought from Africa by slaves to the south. It is a small shrub that grows up to 3 feet tall and bears pinkish red flowers. The plant belongs to the Malvaceae family and it likes full sun or light shade as well as moist soil. It is very drought tolerant.

It is a small, rounded shrub that grows up to 6 feet tall. It bears dark purple flowers during spring or summer and the leaves are ovate with a truncate base and serrated margin. This plant likes sun to partial shade along with moist soil.

Bluebird Hibiscus

It is one of the more popular types of hibiscus you can get. The flowers are a deep purple. They are usually closer to blue than purple though.

The color is more apparent at night when the blue in the flowers really stand out. They have a blue center surrounded by a deep purple petal. Bluebirds do not like to travel far from home and will usually remain within 10 feet of where they are planted, making them ideal for borders.

Their flowers usually last about 6 weeks so if you want a long show, you may have to plant more than one. Bluebirds are hardy down to at least zone 7 and maybe even lower. They especially like full sun but can tolerate light shade.

Sunset Hibiscus

They get their name from the color of their flowers which turn a deep red as they age. The traditional color is supposed to be all red but many will have at least some yellow in the center. Sunset hibiscus generally bloom until frost but do not tolerate drought well and should be watered at least twice a week during dry spells.

Sunset hibiscus requires full sun but can tolerate light shade. Sunset varieties are hardy to at least zone 8. The Sunset was one of the original colors bred into the Imperial line so if you want more traditional red, yellow and orange hibiscus flowers, try a Sunset type.

Sunrise Hibiscus

A more recent color type, Sunrise is a cross between traditional red and yellow hibiscus breeds. The result is an almost solid color of orange with a touch of yellow in the center. As a hybrid flower, it requires more attention from you as the grower to get the best results.

I have seen some that were all orange with no traces of yellow in the center. Sunrise varieties should be watered regularly during dry spells. They require full sun but can tolerate light shade. T

Texas Star Hibiscus

It is a species of hibiscus native to the eastern United States. Texas Star is one of four species in the genus Hibiscus that features showy red flowers with yellow or white centers and yellow, white edged petals.

Texas star hibiscus has medium sized gray green leaves which grow to ovate. It produces large 5 petaled flowers with red centers and yellow tips, that appear in abundance from the early summer to the end of October making it a popular ornamental plant, especially for its heat tolerance and strong color.

The Texas star hibiscus is an extremely invasive species when planted outside of their native range. They grow vigorously and quickly, crowding out native species.

It can be found in shady areas under trees and on stream banks mostly in the Midwest from Ohio to Kansas but also as far south as Mississippi. It is a wetland plant that grows wild along many watercourses throughout central and southern Indiana (Hamilton county)


Q: What are hibiscus used for?

A: Hibiscus tea is a herbal tea made with dried or fresh flowers of plants in the genus "Hibiscus." One of the reasons it is popular in tea form is because all parts of the plant are edible.

Q: Where do hibiscus plants come from?

A: The native range of Hibiscus is tropical and sub-tropical regions of eastern Africa, southern portions of the Arabian Peninsula, India, Sri Lanka, China and Japan. It was introduced to many other areas for its ornamental value.

Q: Are hibiscus plants hardy?

A: Some are, but some aren't. The hardiest hibiscuses for the Chicago region are probably Chinese hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis) and night blooming orchid hibiscus (H. viscosissimus). Although they can take temperatures well into the 20s, they are not frost resistant. Because they can take more heat and do well without a lot of water, these types are often used as landscape plants in tropical areas where it is warm year round.

Q: Can hibiscus plants be eaten?

A: Yes, all parts of the plant are edible. The flowers can be made into jellies and syrups or candied. The leaves can also be candied or made into a tea.

Q: Can I grow hibiscus indoors?

A: Some varieties can be grown indoors with strong light and moist soil in pots. In the spring and summer, they can be moved outside to a shady place for more sunlight.

Q: Is there an effective treatment for downy mildew on hibiscus?

A: Quarantine and destroy all affected plants. Remove debris from under the trees. Spray with dimethoate or Aliette according to label directions. Preventative sprays are also available at garden centers, but are generally not as effective as the other two.


Hibiscus of different types have been used by humans for a long time. Some people use them with their medicinal and other uses, while others use them as a food source. It seems like the hibiscus has had an interesting journey from it's original place to where it is today!

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