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Hibiscus tiliaceus


Hibiscus tiliaceus L.

Family Name: Malvaceae
Synonyms: Pariti tiliaceum, Hibiscus azanzae, Pariti tiliaceum var. heterophyllum, Abelmoschus boninense, Hibiscus tiliiaefolia, Hibiscus boninensis, Paritium tiliaceum, Talipariti tiliaceum
Common Name: Sea Hibiscus, Beach Hibiscus, Linden Hibiscus, Cotton Tree, Baru Baru, Bebaru, Mahoe, 黄槿


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 Tree
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded
Maximum Height 15 m


Native Distribution Tropical Africa, Americas, Pacific, Indian Ocean, Southern China, Malesia, Northern Australia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest), Shoreline (Mangrove Forest, Sandy Beach)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Small shrubby tree, up to 15m height in rich soils. Crown spreading to rounded, with many branches.
Trunk Greyish brown with numerous reddish-brown lenticels. Suckers often form at base of tree.
Foliage Leaves heart-shaped with pointed tip and finely-serrated margins, dark green above, covered with fine whitish hairs below, spirally arranged along stem.
Flowers Produced in few-flowered inflorescences, each flower large, funnel-shaped, bright yellow with purple eye, opening at around 9am, maturing to dull orange and dull pink in afternoon, before closing and dropping off at around 4pm. Sepals form a pointed-tip cup. Free-flowering.
Fruit Rounded explosive capsules, brown when mature, splitting into 5 parts to disperse numerous small kidney-shaped seeds.
Habitat Sandy or rocky coasts, brackish riverbanks, and mangroves.
Similar Resembles another mangrove inhabitant Thespesia populnea (Portia Tree), which has hairless, more fleshy untoothed leaves, and yellow flowers with yellow eye, as well as sepals that form a smooth-edged cup.
Cultivation Fast-growng, requiring little maintenance, tolerates poor soils. Prune away suckers from base of trunk, if single or double trunk is desired. Easily propagated by seeds, stem cuttings and basal suckers. Roots easily, large branches can be cut and rooted in polybags to form 'instant trees'.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Leaves
Food (Fruit & Vegetable) (Herb and Spice)
Others: Medicinal: Mature leaves used to treat fevers and coughs, leaf sap used as laxative or a lubricant for childbirth. Flowers used to treat ear infections and abscesses. Bark mucilage prescribed for dysentry in Philippines. Food: Young leaves eaten as vegetable. Products: Lightweight wood made into planks, outrigger canoes and household implements. Fibre from inner bark used to make ropes, fishing nets and hammocks. Wood can be rubbed vigorously with another piece of hardwood to start a fire. Seeds used in oinments, perfumes and oils for hair.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses Coastal, Beachfront / Shoreline, Phytoremediation (Ground / Water Contaminant(s))
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Caterpillar Food Plant (Leaves, Associated with: Odontoptilum angulatum, Rapala pheretima, Rapala suffusa), Bee-Attracting
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Explosive Dehiscence)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast to Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Easy to Grow
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Sucker, Air-Layering


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Velvety / Furry / Tomentose, Thin
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Apex - Tip Cuspidate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.0 (Tree - Dense Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Greyish brown
Mature Bark Texture Smooth
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink, Red, Yellow / Golden
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flowering Opening Time Daytime
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic
Inflorescence Size Remarks Flowers open yellow in morning , matures to dull orange and pink in afternoon, before being shed in evening.

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 1661
Species ID 2954
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: 03 March 2023.