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Hibiscus paramutabilis
Hibiscus paramutabilis |Hibiscus paramutabilis Hardy Chinese Shrub Hibiscus, 庐山芙蓉 (Lu Shan Fu Rong)

Hibiscus paramutabilis is a deciduous Hibiscus with broad green leaves and large, extremely attractive flowers up to 20cm in diameter. Although it is similar in both name and appearance to Hibiscus mutabilis, it is not closely related. Endemic to central China, this species grows to 2m or more in height, often with arching canes. It can be found growing at an elevations from 500-1000m in the provinces of Gangxi, Hunan, and Jiangxi. There are two subspecies recoginzed: Hibiscus paramutabilis var. paramutabilis (formerly Hibiscus saltuarius) and Hibiscus paramutabilis var. longipedicellatus. Hibiscus mutabilis blooms from spring into fall (or until frost), producing flowers over most of the active growing season. This morning as I write from southern California, it is mid December. The day is cool and overcast, but there are 2 large flowers that opened just this morning!

Hibiscus paramutabilis along with Hibiscus syriacus and Hibiscus sinosyriacus form a group of 3 closely related hardy Hibiscus species (section Hibiscus) indigenous to China. According to at least one source, Hibiscus sinosyriacus appears to be genetically close to Hibiscus paramutabilis, but shows slightly more Hibiscus syriacus influence.

Historical Reference: TWO SPECIES OF HIBISCUS FROM CHINA. In reporting in 1920 on a collection of plants in China I stated (Gent. Herb. 87) that "two apparently undescribed species of Hibiscus were taken, and they have been tentatively named, described and illustrated; but further material is awaited." This material is now in hand, and the descriptions follow.

Hibiscus paramutabilis, Kuling -a showy broad-headed small tree, possibly planted. Blume -a tropical shrubby villous plant, probably belongs to the same group; from the present species it is distinguished by cordate strongly toothed leaves, long-pedicelled inclined or pendent flowers, and other characters. I suspect that H. paramulabilis is not confined to China.

Hibiscus sinosyriacus, Kuling -a stout erect shrub, possibly planted. In general habit much like Hibiscus syriacus, but differing markedly in the leaves and the wide calyx-bracts.

Hibiscus syriacus, I took in China at Chikungshan (Hupeh-Honan), said to have been transplanted from the wild; also in temple grounds near Kioshan (Honan), supposedly planted.

Gentes herbarum
Liberty Hyde Bailey, Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium
Published by L.H. Bailey Hortorium of the New York State College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, 192