Focus on Flora - Native Hibiscus
  • Last updated:
  • 05 Dec 2022

When we think of Hibiscus, we think of the classic exotic Queensland tropical garden flower, with a huge range of cultivars and spectacular colours. However, along with these showy varieties, we have five Hibiscus that are native to the Sunshine Coast.

First up is the Cotton Tree Hibiscus tiliaceus. This is a beautiful hardy coastal tree that some people love and unfortunately some people love to hate. They are robust and can produce prolific suckering and dense thickets that are great for stabilising estuarine riverbanks or coastal foreshores.  Mature trees produce thick horizontal branches that are great to run around in and if your kids haven’t had the opportunity to climb in a Cotton Tree they are missing out!

Next up is the Swamp Hibiscus Hibiscus diversifolius. Despite its name these are a great, colourful fast growing plant for the garden. Relatively short lived at only a year or two, they grow quickly to between 1-2 metres in coastal wetlands that are subject to disturbance. They produce masses of yellow flowers nearly 10cm across.

For speed of growth and colour you can’t go past the Native Rosella Hibiscus heterophyllus, the Pink Hibiscus Hibiscus splendens and Hibiscus divaricatus. All three of these shrubs of the open woodlands grow to between 2-6 metres depending on conditions. The most widespread throughout the Sunshine Coast is the Native Rosella Hibiscus heterophyllus which has white to pink 8cm flowers. The Pink Hibiscus, Hibiscus splendens is less common in our  area and it has a tendency to develop a rather bushy habit with huge 15cm pale pink flowers. The Hibiscus divaricatus is the least common throughout the region but is found in a few patches of open woodland and has yellow 12cm flowers.  

Honeyeaters take advantage of the large nectar-rich flowers of species such as Hibiscus diversifolius, Hibiscus heterophyllus and Hibiscus.splendens. While seed eaters like the lorikeet feast upon the seed capsules of Hibiscus heterophyllus. . Insects seek out all five of the native hibiscuses.

Article provided by Spencer Shaw of Brush Turkey Enterprises