Hibiscus platanifolius (Maple-Leaved Mallow)

Hibiscus platanifolius
Hibiscus platanifolius

Hibiscus platanifolius (Maple-Leaved Mallow) is a flowering tree in the mallow family, Malvaceae. This hibiscus species is native to the Sri Lanka and India. In Sri Lankan texts book, this hibiscus species is widely known by its synonym H. eriocarpus. In ayurvedic literature different parts of Hibiscus platanifolius have been recommended as remedy for various ailments like hyperlipidemic, diabetes, hypertension liver disorders and as antidotes to poisoning chemicals. Hibiscus petal is used to stimulate thicker hair growth and to prevent premature graying, hair loss and scalp disorders. It acts as a natural emollient hair conditioner and can be used in hair washes and vinegar rinses for the hair. This is well known in Asia and Africa and is commonly used more widely as a natural source of food coloring and used to make wigs.

Hibiscus platanifolius is evergreen tree, growing up to 10 m tall. Leaves are alternate, simple, stipulate, petiolate and ovate to lanceolate, often with a toothed or lobed margin cordate at base; hairy; trilobed. Leaves are usually 3-5 lobed, 6-12 × 5-12 cm. Leaf are palmetely veined, entire or various lobed. Flowers are pale pink, with each petal having a deep pink base. Flowers show axillary panicles where flowers show typical Hibiscus flower colors, pink with dark center. Fruit is a capsule. Flowers are about 3-5 inches across. Sepals are leathery, hairy. Stamen-column is 2-2.5cm long, pale pink.

The bark of this Hibiscus contains strong baste fibers, these fibers used for making grass skirts. A number of active principles from this plant have been identified which include taraxeryl acetate, beta sitosterol, campestral, stigma sterol, cholesterol, erogosterol, lipids, citric, tartaric and oxalic acids, fructose, glucose, sucrose, flavonoids and flavonoid glycosides.

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