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Hibiscus calyphyllus Cav.

Chromosome number
2n = 80
Hibiscus calycinus Willd. (1800).
Vernacular names
Lemon-eyed rose mallow (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Hibiscus calyphyllus is widely distributed in Central, East and southern Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands, and occurs also in South Africa and Yemen. In Hawaii it is cultivated and naturalized in low-elevation dry areas. Elsewhere in the tropics and subtropics it is cultivated as an ornamental.
The leaves of Hibiscus calyphyllus are eaten as a vegetable, especially in East Africa. They are collected from the wild during the rainy season, wilted, chopped and boiled mixed with other coarse vegetables. This vegetable is eaten frequently locally, but in small amounts. In Uganda poles made from the stems are used for building by the Karamajong people. The bast fibre is made into rope in Uganda and Tanzania. Hibiscus calyphyllus is cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics as an ornamental. In DR Congo the leaves are used in a mixture with several other plant species to prepare a cure for ganglions in domestic animals. In Kenya and Tanzania the leaves are applied to wounds as a dressing. The vapour of boiled roots is inhaled and the decoction drunk to treat pneumonia.
Perennial herb or shrub up to 3 m tall; stem with long hairs. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules threadlike, up to 1.5 cm long; petiole up to 9(–18) cm long; blade broadly ovate to orbicular, sometimes shallowly 3-lobed, up to 19 cm × 19 cm, base slightly cordate, apex acute, margin serrate, with stellate hairs. Flowers solitary in leaf axils, often congested at ends of branches, bisexual, regular, 5-merous; epicalyx segments 5, variable in shape, apex entire; calyx campanulate, up to 2 cm long; petals free, obovate, up to 6 cm long, pale yellow with red or purple base; stamens numerous, united into a column up to 1.2 cm long; ovary superior, 5-celled, style with 5 branches, included in the staminal column. Fruit an ovoid, beaked capsule up to 2.5 cm long, densely hairy, many-seeded. Seeds reniform, c. 4 mm × 3 mm long, shortly hairy.
Hibiscus comprises 200–300 species, mainly in the tropics and subtropics. Hibiscus calyphyllus belongs to section Calyphylli, which is characterized by its epicalyx of 5 segments. Hibiscus calyphyllus and Hibiscus ovalifolius (Forssk.) Vahl are sometimes considered conspecific, but might well prove to be distinct. The Hawaiian plants assigned to this species possibly deserve specific rank. Hibiscus calyphyllus does not occur at low altitudes and records of uses and properties of Hibiscus from the coast of East Africa probably do not refer to this species. Until a proper revision of section Calyphylli becomes available, identification of species remains difficult.
Hibiscus calyphyllus occurs in rainforest, riverine forest, thickets and grassland, along roadsides and on fallow land, up to 2100 m altitude. In Tanzania it grows in areas with an annual rainfall of 1100–1600 mm.
As a weed Hibiscus calyphyllus is not very important but it is an important host for the cotton pest spiny bollworm (Earias spp.). Wherever transgenic cotton with the Bt gene is grown, Hibiscus calyphyllus populations can be useful in conserving susceptible genes in the bollworm population to counteract resistance of the pest against the toxin produced by the transgenic cotton plants.
Genetic resources and breeding
There are few accessions of Hibiscus calyphyllus in genebanks. In its area of distribution the species is fairly common and not under threat of genetic erosion.
Hibiscus calyphyllus will remain a minor vegetable with only local importance. A taxonomic revision of Hibiscus is badly needed to avoid confusion in identifying species. Only Hibiscus section Furcaria has been revised recently, and even the delimitation of the genus and its sections is still unclear.
Major references
• Exell, A.W. & Meeuse, A.D.J., 1961. Malvaceae. In: Exell, A.W. & Wild, H. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 1, part 2. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 420–511.
• Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 2002. Edible wild plants of Tanzania. Technical Handbook No 27. Regional Land Management Unit/ SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 766 pp.
• Vollesen, K., 1995. Malvaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 2. Canellaceae to Euphorbiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 190–256.
Other references
• Baerts, M. & Lehmann, J., 2002. Hibiscus calyphyllus. [Internet] A few medicinal plants used in traditional veterinary and human medicine in sub-saharan Africa. Laboratoire de Botanique Médicale de Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. http://www.fynu.ucl.ac.be/users/j.lehmann/plante_ang/Hibiscus_calyphyllus.html. Accessed December 2003.
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Green, W.M., de Billot, M.C., Joffe, T., van Staden, L., Bennett-Nel, A., du Toit, C.L.N. & van der Westhuizen, L., 2003. Indigenous plants and weeds on the Makhathini Flats as refuge hosts to maintain bollworm population susceptibility to transgenic cotton (BollgardTM). African Entomology 11(1): 21–29.
• Hauman, L. & Wouters, W., 1963. Malvaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 10. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 92–190.
• Hepper, F.N. & Wood, J.R.I., 1983. New combinations and notes based on Forsskal's Arabian collection. Kew Bulletin 38(1): 83–86.
• Katende, A.B., Ssegawa, P. & Birnie, A., 1999. Wild food plants and mushrooms of Uganda. Technical Handbook No 19. Regional Land Management Unit/SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 490 pp.
• Staples, G.W., Imada, C.T. & Herbst, D.R., 2003. New Hawaiian plant records for 2001. In: Evenhuis, N.L. & Eldredge, L.G. (Editors). Records of the Hawaii Biological Survey for 2001 –2002. Part 2: Notes. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 74: 7–34.
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

G.J.H. Grubben
Prins Hendriklaan 24, 1401 AT Bussum, Netherlands
O.A. Denton
National Horticultural Research Institute, P.M.B. 5432, Idi-Ishin, Ibadan, Nigeria
Associate Editors
C.-M. Messiaen
Bat. B 3, Résidence La Guirlande, 75, rue de Fontcarrade, 34070 Montpellier, France
R.R. Schippers
De Boeier 7, 3742 GD Baarn, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Hibiscus calyphyllus Cav. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.