Rose Chinois
October 2006

They say it is cooling off here in southern Arizona. Yes, that is quite true, the temperatures are falling to a chilly 89 degrees during the day and a frosty 65 Fahrenheit degrees in the coldest part of the nighttime. Brrrr?

Even though it is October, it is also planting season and with an acre of new yard at my disposal, I am selecting plants which I have always loved and yet never had the opportunity to cultivate. The hibiscus has always been a favorite of mine since college days, when I first learned about it. So I have chosen it, among others, as my first attempts to add greenery to our desert surroundings. The dark green shiny leaves and the plush heavy buds are teasing me with the promise of rich, thick, red leaves and the blossoms to come.

Nobody knows whether the hibiscus really is a native of China as its Latin name, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, (rosa-sinensis = Chinese Rose) suggests or not. It has been rumored to have originated in India. Certainly, it has existed in Europe for centuries. Old Moorish (Arabic) sources mention hibiscus being cultivated in Spain, Andalusia to be exact, already in the twelfth century. How closely related those 'hibiscus' were to the present day Hibiscus rosa-sinensis hybrid is something that can only be speculated. It has been said that Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is not a natural species at all but a collection of synthetic hybrids. The long history of its’ cultivation could support such a view.

chinese rose

The Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, family
Malvaceae) is an evergreen shrub native to East Asia, also known as China rose and Shoe flower. It is widely grown as an ornamental plant throughout the tropics and subtropics. The flowers are large, red, firm, but lack any scent. Numerous cultivars, varieties, and hybrids have been created, with flower colors ranging from white through yellow and orange to scarlet and shades of pink, with both single and double sets of petals.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of
Malaysia, called the Bunga Raya in Malay and "Sembaruthi" in Tamil. The flowers are used to shine shoes in parts of India, as well as the worship of Devi.

Shoe Flower / Show Flower
For those who know the plant hibiscus as the shoe flower, it is also thought to possess curative powers and is used in the honoring of the the Great Goddess, Devi.

Botanical name: Hibiscus rosa sinensis

Sanskrit: Japa
English: Show flower
Kannada: Dasnige
Tamil: Shemberattai
Telugu: Mandara

Hibiscus is the flower offered in worship to the Great Goddess, known in India as Devi (literally "goddess"), who has many guises. She is "Ma" the gentle and approachable mother. As Jaganmata, or Mother of the universe, she assumes cosmic proportions, destroying evil and addressing herself to the creation and dissolution of the worlds. She is worshiped by thousands of names that often reflect local customs and legends.

In traditional medicine, the Shoe flower is extensively used to blacken hair. The thick juice of the leaves has been used by women as a shampoo since ancient times. Leaves and flowers are good for promoting the growth and color of hair, and make a good conditioner. Probably because of these properties, hibiscus is a major ingredient of some hair oils.
The Shoe flower is a shrub cultivated throughout India. Leaves are bright, dark green, shining, broader at base, margin-toothed above and pointed at tip. Flowers are large, showy, solitary, variously colored and long-stalked. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant all over India.

Medicinal Properties
As a curative the following is suggested:

Symptoms: Painful periods and white discharge.
Part used: Flowers, leaves and stem.
Preparation: Take a 4-inch piece of stem, a white shoe flower, handful of its leaves and 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds. Pound or grind all of this into a smooth paste.
Dosage: The paste has to be taken from the first day of menstruation. Divide paste into 3 parts, mix one part in a cup of fresh milk, and take it 3 times a day, before meals. Continue this regimen for 3 days. The treatment has to be taken for the next two menstrual cycles during the first three days.

little hibiscus

Hibiscus or Rose of China / Shoe Flower
Origin: Cultivars of species from China
Binomial name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Scientific classification:
· Kingdom: Plantae
· Division: Magnoliophyta

· Class: Magnoliopsida
· Order: Malvales
· Family: Malvaceae
· Genus: Hibiscus


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artida said...

a beautiful summery of a perfect flower - i love them too! thank you for writing about your latest gardening adventures.

sfmichel said...

So it os getting chilly there?

annefrancis said...

A chinese rose is perfect for your new climate. I hope yours grow nicley for you. Do you know that the hibiscus come in so very many different colors? Such pretty plants with very dark green leaves!
Enjoy your cultivating....

igo/ono said...

as always, love your postings,
great blog!

marseillesdavid said...

very nice...now you are a gardener again, finally? good for you! sending my best wishes to your new warm and happy home... hibiscus are an excellent choice for the warm climate...

devi said...