Hibiscus storckii | Storck's
Sequelu, Aute Tonga
This mysterious species was discovered in 1860 by botanists Dr.
Berthold Seemann and Jacob Storck on the Fijian island of Taveuni.
In Seeman's "Flora Vitiensis", published in 1865, it was described
as a low-growing shrub with pink flowers. Jacob Storck, a German,
settled in Fiji and kept a collection of plants from this
archipelago. In 1963, an American botanist, Ross Gast, traveled to
Fiji but found no trace of Hibiscus storkii, which has since been
declared extinct in the wild. Fortunately, Jacob Storck distributed
some of his specimens, and it is believed (by some) that this
gorgeous hibiscus survived in several collections of various
botanical gardens in Europe as well as Australia. There are still
doubts however concerning this species authenticity —some botanists
maintaining that it is simply a form of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. In
1941, Skovsted theorized that Hibiscus storckii, is actually a
primitive form of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (A. Skovsted, a Danish
cytologist, made a chromosome count of the species which is reported
in "Chromosome Atlas of Flowering Plants" by Darlington and Wiley).
To further muddy the waters, some claim that another elusive
species, Hibiscus denisonii is actually the same as Hibiscus
storckii. Whatever the case, the plant we label today as Hibiscus
storckii has definite ornamental value.
Historical Reference: H. (Ketmia) Storckii. Nomen vernac -Sequelu.
Somosomo, Island of Taviuni, growing as underwood like the allied
Hibiscus Genevii, Bojer; rare. This is closely allied to Hibiscus
rosa-sinensis, but I think sufficiently distinct to entitle it to
the rank of species. Unfortunately my specimens are not so complete
as could be wished, and so prevent a thorough comparison with its
nearest ally. I have never seen it cultivated; it is a more
straggling shrub than H. rosa-sinensis. The leaves are always more
elliptical and less deeply cut on the margin, the segments of the
calyx are also somewhat differently shaped, and I have never
observed a variety of H. rosa-sinensis with such fine pink-coloured
petals. I have named it in honour of my able assistant, Mr. J.
Storck, who was with me when we first found it.
Flora Vitiensis: A Description of The Plants Viti or Fiji Islands
By Berthold Seemann, PH.D., Published 1865