Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, known colloquially as rose mallow, Chinese hibiscus, China rose and shoe flower, is a species of flowering plant in the family Malvaceae, native to East Asia.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is a bushy, evergreen shrub or small tree growing 2.5–5 m (8–16 ft) tall and 1.5–3 m (5–10 ft) wide, with glossy leaves and solitary, brilliant red flowers in summer and autumn. The 5-petaled flowers are 10 cm (4 in) in diameter, with prominent orange-tipped red anthers.
It is widely grown as an ornamental plant throughout the tropics and subtropics. As it does not tolerate temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F), 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.
Numerous varieties, cultivars, and hybrids are available, with flower colors ranging from white through yellow and orange to scarlet and shades of pink, with both single and double sets of petals. The cultivar ‘Cooperi’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
A white cultivar in Visakhapatnam, India
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 color 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”.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is considered to have a number of medical uses in Chinese herbology. It may have some potential in cosmetic skin care; for example, an extract from the flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has been shown to function as an anti-solar agent by absorbing ultraviolet radiation.