Appearance"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.
HabitatDespite its size and red hues, which are attractive to nectarivore birds, it is not visited regularly by hummingbirds when grown in the Neotropics. Generalist species, like the sapphire-spangled emerald, "Amazilia lactea", or long-billed species, like the stripe-breasted starthroat, "Heliomaster squamosus", are occasionally seen to visit it, however. In the subtropical and temperate Americas, hummingbirds are regularly attracted to it.
UsesThe 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". In several countries the flowers are dried to use in a beverage, usually tea.
"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.
Cultural*In March 1987 DPR Korea issued a postage stamp depicting "Hibiscus rosa-sinensis".
⤷ On 7th October 2012, Sri Lanka too, issued and one of it carried a "Hibiscus rosa-sinensis" flower.
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