Herb: Chinese Hibiscus

Latin name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Family: Malvaceae (Mallow Family)

Medicinal use of Chinese Hibiscus:

Chinese hibiscus is a sweet, astringent, cooling herb that checks bleeding, soothes irritated tissues and relaxes spasms. The flowers are aphrodisiac, demulcent, emmenagogue, emollient and refrigerant. They are used internally in the treatment of excessive and painful menstruation, cystitis, venereal diseases, feverish illnesses, bronchial catarrh, coughs and to promote hair growth. An infusion of the flowers is given as a cooling drink to ill people. The leaves are anodyne, aperient, emollient and laxative. A decoction is used as a lotion in the treatment of fevers. The leaves and flowers are beaten into a paste and poulticed onto cancerous swellings and mumps. The flowers are used in the treatment of carbuncles, mumps, fever and sores. The root is a good source of mucilage and is used as a substitute for marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) in the treatment of coughs and colds. A paste made from the root is used in the treament of venereal diseases.

Description of the plant:


2.5 m
(8 1/4 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation

Edible parts of Chinese Hibiscus:

Young leaves are sometimes used as a spinach substitute. A nutritional analysis is available. Flowers - raw or cooked. They can also be made into a kind of pickle or used as a purple dye for colouring foods such as preserved fruits and cooked vegetables. A nutritional analysis is available. Root - it is edible but very fibrousy. Mucilaginous, without very much flavour.

Other uses of the herb:

The juice from the petals is used in China as shoe-blacking and mascara. A dye is made from the petals. A good quality fibre is obtained from the stems. In warm sub-tropical areas the fibres can be up to 3 metres long, but in Britain they are likely to be much shorter. The fibre is used for coarse fabrics, nets and paper. Plants are often used for hedges and screens, though since they are not very cold hardy they are not suitable for this use in Britain.

Propagation of Chinese Hibiscus:

Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. Germination is usually fairly rapid. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If growing them as annuals, plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and protect them with a frame or cloche until they are growing away well. If hoping to grow them as perennials, then it is better to grow them on in the greenhouse for their first year and to plant them out in early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Overwinter them in a warm greenhouse and plant out after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation

Known hazards of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.