We’re back to Kew Gardens, this time in the tropical glasshouse in March, for tonight’s flower: Hibiscus schizopetalus. Like Sparmannia africana, Hibiscus schizopetalus is also in the Malvaceae, or mallow family. It has the common name of ‘Japanese Lantern,’ despite being native to Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania, where it grows in tropical conditions. I am more accustomed to the smaller Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, which I grew in outdoors in summer containers in the U.S. H. schizopetalus is a much larger shrub, growing to 3-4 metres, and it was really neat to see its captivating blooms from standing eye-level.
In Britain Hibiscus schizopetalus survives only in a glasshouse or conservatory, but there it makes a stunning display. Its specific epithet, schizopetalus, refers in Greek to its deeply divided petals (schizo=split+petalus-petals).