13. Hibiscus mutabilis Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 694. 1753.
木芙蓉 mu fu rong
Abelmoschus mutabilis (Linnaeus) Wallich ex Hasskarl; Hibiscus mutabilis f. plenus S. Y. Hu; H. sinensis Miller; Ketmia mutabilis (Linnaeus) Moench.
Shrubs or small trees, erect, 2-5 m tall, deciduous. Branchlets, petioles, pedicel, epicalyx, and calyx densely stellate and woolly pubescent. Stipules lanceolate, 5-8 mm, usually caducous; petiole 5-20 cm; leaf blade broadly ovate to round-ovate or cordate, 5-7-lobed, 10-15 cm in diam., papery, abaxially densely stellate minutely tomentose, adaxially sparsely stellate minutely hairy, lobes triangular, basal veins 7-11, margin obtusely serrate, apex acuminate. Flowers solitary, axillary on upper branches. Pedicel 5-8 cm, articulate near end. Epicalyx lobes 8, filiform, connate at base, 10-16 × ca. 2 mm. Calyx campanulate, 2.5-3 cm, lobes 5, ovate, acuminate. Corolla white or reddish, becoming dark red, ca. 8 cm in diam.; petals nearly orbicular, 4-5 cm in diam., hairy abaxially, barbate at base. Staminal column 2.5-3 cm, glabrous. Styles 5, pilose. Capsule flattened globose, ca. 2.5 cm in diam., yellowish hispid and woolly; mericarps 5. Seeds reniform, villous abaxially. Fl. Aug-Oct.
● Thickets along streams. Native in Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Taiwan, and Yunnan; cultivated in Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Shandong, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, and Zhejiang [cultivated and occasionally naturalized elsewhere].
Hibiscus mutabilis is almost certainly native to SE China but was domesticated a long time ago. It is now cultivated throughout the world and has occasionally become naturalized elsewhere, e.g., in Japan. Cultivars with double flowers have been called H. mutabilis f. plenus (重瓣木芙蓉 chong ban mu fu rong).