Wagner, Warren L., Derral R. Herbst and S. H. Sohmer. 1999. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai'i (Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Special Publication, 2 Vol. Set). Honolulu, HI
Flora of Hawaii:
Distribution A polymorphic species widespread in the tropics and subtropics worldwide, especially along coasts. In the Hawaiian Islands, a Polynesian introduction on Midway, French Frigate Shoals, Ni`ihau, Kaua`i, O`ahu, Moloka`i, Lana`i, Maui, Hawai`i.
Habit Shrubs or small trees 2-10(-20) m tall; young branches, petioles, and pedicels glabrous or finely stellate pubescent.
Leaves Leaf blades coriaceous, cordate ovate to cordate orbicular, 8-20(-30) cm long, unlobed, median vein or 3 central veins on lower surface with an elongate, bordered gland near base, upper surface green, glossy, and subglabrous, lower surface closely white tomentose, margins entire or serrulate, apex abruptly acuminate; petioles usually 1/4-3/4 as long as blades; stipules foliaceous, 10-60 mm long, enclosing the buds, clasping the stems in pairs, then deciduous leaving an annular scar.
Flowers Flowers solitary or few in naked cymes, peduncles and pedicels articulate; involucral bracts connate basally to form a 7-12 toothed cup usually 1/2 or less the length of the calyx, closely and smoothly stellate pubescent; calyx 1.5-3 cm long, lobed to middle and beyond, midvein of each lobe with a flat, elongate gland; corolla yellow, rarely whitish when fresh, usually brownish red to maroon at base, fading during the day through orange-yellow to dark red, drying greenish, convolute, basically tubular below with petals spreading above, 4-7(-8.5) cm long; staminal column included, closely antheriferous for most of its length; style branches erect, maroon; stigmas expanded and slightly decurrent.
Fruit Capsules oblong ovoid, short beaked, 1.3-2.8 cm long, valves firm, moderately woody, closely yellowish stellate pubescent.
Seeds Seeds reddish brown, reniform, up to 4.5 mm long, striate with minute papillae or stellate tufts.
Chromosomes 2n = 80, 92, 96.
Notes We choose not to recognize infraspecific taxa in this widespread and variable species. Hibiscus tiliaceus ‘Sterilis’ is a cultivar grown in the Marquesas and Society Islands from near sea level to about 500 m as an ornamental, for its wood, and its bark used for cordage. It is recognized by its erect trunk and branches, juvenile leaves with crenate margins, and scarcity of flowers or fruits. A cultivar with variegated leaves (white, green, pink, and purple-red) is seen in cultivation.