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Hibiscus acetosella


Hibiscus acetosella Welw. ex Hiern

Family Name: Malvaceae
Synonyms: Hibiscus eetveldianus
Common Name: False Roselle, Rose Mallow, Red-Leaf Hibiscus, Cranberry Hibiscus


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 2 m


Native Distribution Tropical Africa
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Foliage Simple alternate leaves are slightly glossy and pubescent, deep red in colour and shape of lower leaves is usually shallowly to deeply palmately with 3 to 5 lobes but upper leaves are become undivided, with a distinct nectary located at base of midrib. Petiole dark red.
Flowers Flowers are solitary and bisexual, borne between the leaf axils with five petals that are pink in colour and lasting only a day. Petals are wine red with a dark purple centre, giving the flower a distinctive “eye” in the center. Self-pollination most commonly occurs for the flowers of H. acetosella but outcrossing by insects may occur too.
Fruits Fruit a red ovoid capsule that is many-seeded. Seeds reniform (= kidney-shaped) to globular, dark brown when ripe, and verruculose (= minutely verrucose, i.e. bearing wart-like projections on the surface).
Others - Plant Morphology Plant Growth Form: Erect annual or short-lived perennial herb or shrub that grows to 0.5 – 2.5 m tall, usually entirely red or with a marked red flush.
Cultivation Introduced as a vegetable or ornamental plant into Southeast Asia, H. acetosella is sometimes grown as a colourful temporary hedge. Red forms are popular ornamentals that are also grown in the temperate regions as frost-tender annuals. Grows on all kind of soils, but requires good drainage. A cultivar, H. acetosella ‘Red Shield’, has brilliant maroon leaves.Propagated by seed and stem cuttings. Diseases that are known to affect H. acetosella are soilborne diseases, such as Rhizoctonia solani and Sclerotium rolfisii.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits, Edible Leaves, Edible Flowers)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable)
[Others]: Food: A common home garden, vegetable, the sour and slightly mucilaginous leaves are eaten as a side dish with rice and also added in small quantities to several dishes. The red flowers and possibly also the leaves are occasionally used to make a tea, somewhat similar to the use of the red calyces of the roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). The root is edible but insipid and fibrous. Medicine: In Angola, an infusion of the leaves in water is used as post-fever tonic and as medicine to treat anaemia. In East Africa, children with an aching body are washed in cold water to which some mashed H. acetosella leaves have been added.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Easy to Grow, Disease / Pest Resistant
Landscape Uses Container Planting, Flowerbed / Border, Hedge / Screening, Focal Plant

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Abiotic (Self-Pollinated)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Red
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Palmate)
Foliar Margin Palmately Lobed
Typical Foliar Area Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink
Individual Flower Shape Trumpet-shaped
Ovary Position Superior / Hypogynous
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 795
Species ID 2090
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 15 February 2022.