Hibiscus hirtus | Lesser Mallow, दुपारी Dupari (Marathi),
Hibiscus hirtus is a diminutive species from the East Indies and
Malaysia. The Lesser Mallow is an easy to grow tropical sub-shrub or
perennial which reaches up to 6m in height. It has small, attractive
flowers up to 3cm across. Flowers can be red, white, pink or orange.
The Marathi name Dupari (noon) comes from the fact the flowers open
fully at noon. This species is similar to, and in the past often
confused with another tiny Hibiscus species ―Hibiscus phoeniceus
from Carribbean and Central America.
Historical Reference: Clearly a very distinct species from the
Hibiscus phśniceus of the younger Linnaeus and Jacquin, published in
the third volume of this work, fol. 230; although probably a mere
variety of the Hibiscus hirtus of the elder Linnaeus, incautiously
subjoined by Willdenow to phśniceus as the variety B. In phśniceus
the peduncles are jointed, and the upper part is thicker than the
lower; which is not the case here. The leaflets of the inner calyx
are there membranous, rather smooth, and three times broader than in
our plant, where they are herbaceous and roughly furred. Phśniceus
is altogether a much slenderer plant, not so conspicuously nor
stiffly furred as the present; and we suspect that it is not even an
East-Indian vegetable. Jacquin's specimen is preserved in the
Banksian Herbarium, and is evidently of a distinct species from the
three other specimens from three distant parts of India preserved in
the same place under one name; and which appear all to be of the
species of our plant. Probably Jacquin's plant is really
South-American, as he asserts.
The drawing was made from a sample which flowered late in the
summer at Messrs. Whitley, Brames, and Milne's, Fulham; where it had
been raised from seed, sent from Calcutta by Mrs. Clarke. According
to Van Rheede it grows to be a pretty large shrub. Koenig speaks of
its being very generally cultivated in the gardens of the temples of
India. Dr. Roxburgh says it is common in all parts of that country .
Linnaeus has not adduced Van Rheede's figure to his hirtus; and
it being possible that his plant may be specifically distinct from
the present, we have deemed it safer to abide by Kśnig's specific
name; his plant being clearly the species and variety of Van Rheede
and Roxburgh, as well as of the present article. We do not know that
the species has been before introduced into this country. Cultivated
in the hothouse. The colour of the flower is extremely brilliant.
The Botanical Register: Consisting of Coloured Figures of Exotic
By Sydenham Teast Edwards, John Lindley