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Hibiscus acetosella (Variegated Leaf)


Hibiscus acetosella (Variegated Leaf)

Family Name: Malvaceae


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Infraspecific Epithet

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

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.
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.
Fruit 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).
Cultivation 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 Food (Fruit & Vegetable)

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Fruits
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
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Easy to Grow, Disease / Pest Resistant
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Red, Purple
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Palmate)
Foliar Venation Palmate
Foliar Margin Palmately Lobed
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Truncate / Square
Typical Foliar Area Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Remarks The variegated leaves are pinkish red and dark purple. 

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink
Flower Texture(s) Wrinkled
Flower Grouping Solitary
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Funnelform / Funnel-shaped
Ovary Position Superior / Hypogynous
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown, Red
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Bristly
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type

Image Repository



Master ID 31380
Species ID 5777
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: 22 February 2022.