Characteristics of Sea Hibiscus Tree (Hibiscus tiliaceus) in the Wild

Hibiscus tiliaceus
Sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) is a species of flowering tree that is still in the Malvaceae family. Sea hibiscus tree itself originates from tropical regions in the old world (Afro-Eurasia includes Africa, Asia, and Europe).

Common synonym names used to refer to the sea hibiscus tree include Beach Hibiscus, Coastal Hibiscus, Native Rosella, Cottonwood Hibiscus, Kurrajong, and Sea Rosemallow.

Sea hibiscus trees are common coastal trees that grow across eastern and northern Australia, Oceania, Maldives, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. This tree has been naturalized in areas such as Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Sea hibiscus trees can be found at an altitude of 800 meters above sea level in areas that have an annual rainfall of 900-2,500 mm. Usually easily found growing on the beach, riverbanks, and in swamps.

Sea hibiscus can also adapt well in coastal environments because it can tolerate salt, standing water, and can grow in quartz sand, coral sand, marl, limestone, and broken basalt. But sea hibiscus trees grow best in slightly acidic soils too alkaline between 5-8.5 pH.


Characteristics of Sea Hibiscus Leaf

Hibiscus tiliaceus Leaf
Source : and Kim Starr

Sea hibiscus leaves are heart-shaped with flat edges, centered, bony leaves, the underside of the leaves are downy, and have green (Hibiscus tiliaceus) or dark red leaves (Hibiscus tiliaceus var. ‘Rubra’).

In the wild, sea hibiscus leaves are very similar to Macaranga leaves. The most distinguishing is the shape of the heart and soft hair under the sea hibiscus leaves that Macaranga does not have.


Characteristics of Sea Hibiscus Flower

Hibiscus tiliaceus Flower
Source :

The sea hibiscus flower is bright yellow with a deep red center on the inside of the flower. Throughout the day, sea hibiscus flowers will turn orange and eventually red, then fall.


Characteristics of Sea Hibiscus Fruit

Hibiscus tiliaceus Fruit
Source : and Kim Starr

Sea hibiscus fruit is a small round shape and surrounded by 5 valves.


Characteristics of the Hibiscus Sea Tree

Hibiscus tiliaceus Tree
Source :

The sea hibiscus tree can reach a height of 5-10 meters, with a trunk diameter of up to 100 cm.

In its original habitat, the sea hibiscus tree is of little significance other than firewood, but in the hands of professional bonsai artists, the sea hibiscus tree can be transformed into a beautiful small tree in a shallow pot. You can search various forms of “Sea Hibiscus Bonsai” (Hibiscus tiliaceus) on the internet and you will surely be amazed!


Sea hibiscus wood is often used as a seacraft, firewood, and wood carving. The wood has its advantages, which are lightweight, easily shaped, and durable. So it is considered high quality.

Fiber taken from the sea hibiscus tree trunk is traditionally used in making ropes, while the skin is used to patch cracks in marine vessels.

The skin and roots can be boiled to make herbal tea as a fever remedy, and the young shoots can be eaten as a vegetable.

Native Hawaiians use parts of the sea hibiscus tree to make ʻiako (spar) for waʻa (outrigger boats), ʻama (floating canoes), mouo (fishing nets), and ʻau koʻi (adze handles), and kaula ʻilihau (rope ropes).

In Indonesia, the sea hibiscus tree is used for tempeh fermentation.

Sea hibiscus leaves and flowers have stronger antioxidant properties than populations planted on land.


The sea hibiscus tree is very easy to grow, it can be propagated by stem cuttings. Put the stem pieces in soil that is always damp, then within a few days, the shoots will appear with rapid growth.


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