Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Hibiscus rosa sinensis L. var. rubra

See Hibiscus rosa sinensis L. for a description of the species.  The variety rubra has deep red double flowers.  [LBC no.995/1824].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This, as well as the other varieties of this magnificent plant, is much cultivated in China, and has been introduced many years since into this country.  It flowers with proper treatment almost the whole of the year.  We have a specimen planted in the ground and trained to the back wall of a stove, which presents a perpetual display of its superb blossoms.

In India, the flowers are used by the natives, to decorate their houses and temples, and some of the Europeans there (not much in proof of their superior taste) call it the shoe plant, and use these beautiful flowers to rub over their dirty shoes instead of blacking.’  [LBC no.995/1824].

History at Camden Park

Hibiscus rubra is marked with a ‘c’ in an 1836 edition of Loddiges’ catalogue held at Camden Park [CPA].  In William Macarthur’s code, used and explained elsewhere, this means grown at Camden.  It is almost certain that it was grown in the gardens around this time but may have been short lived as it did not appear in the catalogues.


Hibiscus spp. tend to be somewhat variable in flower colour and a number of species are recorded with varieties called flore rubra or similar.  These include Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, H. radiatus (but not, as far as I am aware until 1859), H. tiliaceus, H. mutabilis and no doubt others.

Published Jan 13, 2010 - 04:54 PM | Last updated Jan 13, 2010 - 04:59 PM

Figured are toothed leaves and very double deep red flower.  Loddiges Botanical Cabinet no.995, 1824.

Hibiscus rosa sinensis L. var. rubra | LBC no.995/1824 | HAAB

Family Malvaceae
Region of origin


Common Name

Chinese hibiscus

Name in the Camden Park Record

Hibiscus rubra 

Confidence level