Sea Hibiscus Tree
Hibiscus tiliaceus – Hau
Other Common Names: Sea Hibiscus, Mahoe, Beach Hibiscus
Hibiscus tiliaceus is another flowering tree specie in the Malvaceae – mallow family. It is native to the Pacific and Indian Ocean shores, but is grown or naturalized in tropical and subtropical regions across the globe. It is known by many common names which include Beach Hibiscus, Sea Hibiscus, Coastal Hibiscus, Green Cottonwood, Coastal Cottonwood, Native Hibiscus, Mahoe, or Hau.
Hau usually grows anywhere from 8 to 10 meters or 26 to 32 feet. If not pruned, especially when in the wild, the tree can grow just as wide. The trunk can grow up to 15 centimeters or 5.9 inches in diameter. It is commonly found along the coast, but in the wild, it usually grows near watercourses and mangrove swamps as it is suitable for sandy and moist soil condition.
The leaves of the Hau plant are dark green in color, but there are some plants with variegated or purplish leaves. They also resemble the shape of a heart and have a pair of stipules at the base of the leaf stalk. They grow in spreading branches that usually curve over time.
Normally, the flowers are bright yellow with a tinge of crimson at the center. But, sometimes, the flowers can also be cream, orange, or salmon, or a combination. They have a distinct characteristic of pointing down on the tree or positioned slightly sideways. When fully bloomed, the flowers are about 10 to 15 centimeters or 4 to 6 inches wide. However, they only last for a day.
What’s interesting about the Hau’s flowers is that they gradually change colors during the day. During the morning, they are bright yellow, but in the afternoon, they turn orange or red.