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 syriacus L. var. alba simplex

Fully-hardy, erect, deciduous shrub with 3-lobed leaves, to 10cm long, and single or paired, large, trumpet-shaped flowers, usually dark pink in the wild, to 6cm across, arising from the leaf axils in summer and autumn.  To 3m.  Alba simplex has single white flowers.  Cultivars with single white flowers still grown include, notably ‘Totus albus’ and ‘Snowdrift’.  There are many colour forms, such as those described here, and double forms are common.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers'].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The Hibiscus syriacus, known generally by the name of Althaea frutex, is a native of Syria, and forms one of the chief ornaments of our gardens in autumn; we view it, however, with less delight, as it is a sure indication of approaching winter.  There are many varieties of it mentioned by authors, as the purple, red-flowered, white-flowered, variegated red and white flowered, and the striped-flowered, to which may be added, another variety, lately introduced, with double flowers: it varies also in its foliage, which is sometimes marked with white, sometimes with yellow.’  The plant figured had pinkish-white flowers with a scarlet centre, the petals veined with scarlet.  [BM t.83/1789].  First cultivated in Britain in 1596.  [PD].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.555/1843].


Published Jan 13, 2010 - 11:02 AM | Last updated Jan 13, 2010 - 12:00 PM

Figured are deeply lobed leaves and single white flower with red centre.  Redout? Choix pl.31, 1833.

Hibiscus syriacus L. var. alba simplex | Redouté Choix pl.31/1833 | BHL.  A form with single white flowers, probably the true alba simplex, is shown. | BHL

Family Malvaceae
Region of origin

China to India

  • Althaea frutex Hort. ex Mill. alba simplex
  • Hibiscus chinensis DC.
Common Name

Shrubby althaea

Name in the Camden Park Record

Hibiscus Syriacus alba simp.

Confidence level