Hibiscus Journal

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Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

This tropical native with its brilliant flamboyant blooms originated as a smaller and far less showy plant in southern China. Now numerous varieties and hybrids are found throughout the tropics and in warmer temperate zones as well. It is the national flower of Malaysia although in the popular imagination it is most closely associated with Hawaii.

All parts of the plant have served a range of practical purposes, from dyes and paper making to teas and medicinal remedies. Hibiscus contains flavonoids and simple organic acids---citric and malic. In traditional usage, extracts were believed to prevent constipation, bladder infection, nausea and high blood pressure. In India household gods often receive a hibiscus atop their morning flower offerings of rose petals, jasmine and marigold.

From the time you first discern the very early form of a bud, it is weeks before a tight twist of color frees itself from the calyx and slowly emerges, unwinding gracefully to a tempo quite its own. Finally, the petals release into a circle of intense color with deep veins spreading from the center to the very edges. And all this suspense and waiting for a flower which is said to bloom for but a day!

I have watched and waited, not always patiently, for the challenge ahead of me. The flower does not hold still, not for a moment. It changes constantly before my eyes, teasing and cavorting, daring and defying the attempts of my brush and pigment to chronicle its movement, its dance, its single day of glory. And my reward lies in this encounter, the pleasure of observing closely, of honoring the radiance that is an entire life span for the bloom, a mere day for me.

artwork and text 

by milly acharya © 2006

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