Scientific Name: Hibiscus brackenridgei
Common Names: Ma'o Hau Hele, Brackenridge's Rosemallow, Native Yellow Hibiscus, Pua Aloalo
Duration: Perennial, Deciduous
Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub
Hawaii Native Status: Native (endemic)
Flower Color: Yellow
Height: 6 to 33 feet (2 to 10 m) tall
Description: The flowers are 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) wide and have 5 crinkled, egg-shaped petals, a yellow staminal column with a small, 5-lobed style and yellow to reddish anthers all along the length of the column, and 7 to 11 hairy, green, linear to awl-shaped bracteoles below the flowers. The flowers either have a solid red center or just have small splotches of red at the base of each petal. The flowers are followed by beaked seed capsules. The leaves are green, alternate, toothed, finely hairy to almost hairless above, and fuzzy below. The mid-plant leaves are either egg-shaped or have 3 to 7 palmate lobes like a maple leaf. The upper leaves are more lanceolate to oblanceolate in shape. The branches are smooth to wrinkled and spineless or covered with pustule-like spines.
This lovely native yellow hibiscus is the official Hawaii state flower. It grows in dry forests and shrublands at lower elevations. Different subspecies grow on different Hawaiian islands and vary in appearance.
The yellow-flowered form of the much more common Chinese Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is similar, but it has non-lobed leaves and the central staminal column of its flowers has a larger 5-lobed style and anthers only near the tip of the column.
Legal Status – Protected Plant (Endangered). Although few plants remain in the wild due to overgrazing by non-native animals, competition with non-native weeds, fire, and land development, cultivated Ma'o Hau Hele can be found growing in Hawaiian gardens. The Ma'o Hau Hele plants sold in nurseries are mainly the subspecies Hibiscus brackenridgei ssp. brackenridgei from the Big Island of Hawaii.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Malvaceae – Mallow family
Genus: Hibiscus L. – rosemallow
Species: Hibiscus brackenridgei A. Gray – Brackenridge's rosemallow
More About This Plant