464. Lagoon Hibiscus, Wild Cottontree Hibiscus tiliaceus tiliaceus
Order: Malvales. Family: Malvaceae
A large, stout, open-branched shrub or small tree with spreading branches. It grows to a height of 3–6 m. Stems long and flexible. Young branches, buds and flowers densely covered with short soft hairs. Bark pale greyish brown, smooth or with lenticels (small corky dots on young stems allowing gas exchange between plant and environment), becoming rough with age.
Large dark green simple leaves are heart-shaped to almost circular, or broader than long, 30–150 mm in diameter or larger; 5- to 9-veined from the base, veins prominent, each of the main veins with a slit or elongated gland near the base; velvety white to greyish, densely and finely tomentose below, olive-green and glabrescent (becoming hairless) on the upper surface; apex abruptly pointed; base deeply lobed; margins entire or minutely toothed; petiole (leaf stalk) up to120 mm long, with stellate (star-shaped) hairs, sometimes hairless; stipules (small appendages at the base of leaves) broad, up to about 30 x 15 mm, ovate-cordate, caducous (falling off during the life of the organism), sheathing the stem, falling off early to leave a scar almost all the way around the stem. The inflorescence seems to be cymose (as in an inflorescence in which the main axis and all side branches end in a flower) but the apparently terminal flowers are really axillary (arising from the axil of a leaf). Bracts (modified leaves associated with flower) ovate; paired with the stipules, each pair occupies the complete circumference of the stem leaving a circular scar after falling off.
Flowers large, showy, up to 120 mm in diameter, yellow with dark maroon or blackish centre, deepen to orange or apricot as they mature, flowers fading after 1 day and turn orange-red before they are shed. Flowers have five free petals 60 –70 x 40–60 mm, obovate, twisted. the stamens many, united into a distinctive tube up to 25 mm long around the style.
Fruit an ovoid or subglobose capsule, tapering to the apex, 20–25 mm long, covered with golden hairs. Seeds almost kidney-shaped, 4.5 x 3 mm, smooth.Distribution
It occurs along the coast from the Eastern Cape to Zululand and extends into the tropics.Habitat
Widespread along the sea shore on margins of watercourses or in tidal zone thickets. It fringes estuaries and coastal areas along rivers and lagoons. It usually occupies higher ground than the mangroves.