National Flower Series–East Asia 4–Republic of Korea (South Korea)–Hibiscus Syriacus


Hibiscus Syriacus (木槿 (mu jin) in Mandarin or 무궁화 , 无穷花 (Mugunghwa) in Korean) is a hardy deciduous shrub belonging to the species of flowering plant in the family Malvaceae, native to much of Asia.  Other common name include Roses of Sharon which is called in the United States.

The shrub is upright and vase-shaped, reaching 2–4 m (7–13 ft) in height, bearing large trumpet-shaped dark pink flowers with prominent yellow-tipped white stamens.    Shoots make interesting indoor vase cuttings, as they stay green for a long time. In the vase some new flowers may open from the more mature buds. The species have naturalized very well in many suburban areas, and might even be termed slightly invasive, so often does it seed around. The flower language is delicate beauty.

There are many cultivars or sub-species of Hibiscus Syriacus with beautiful names such as the name Diana (one of goddesses) and marketable names liked ‘Lady Stanley’, ‘Ardens’, ‘Lucy’, and ‘Blushing Bride’ were being used. Colors can range from white, pink, lavender, or purple large and red. Some of the cultivars were as follows: 

  • ‘Bredon Springs(rose-pink with red centre)      
  • ‘Cicola’ (double white with maroon centre)
  • ‘Diana’ (single, pure white)
  • ‘Hamabo’ (pale pink with deep red centre)
  • Lavender Chiffon ‘Notwoodone’ (pale lilac)

The South Korean Context of Hibiscus Syriacus L.

  • There are about 100 cultivars of Mugunghwa indigenous to Korea but it is understood that the correct cultivar should be the Tashim sub-species, single pink blossom with the red-centre as the national flower.
  • The name “mugungwha” was first used by the poet Lee Gyu-bo (이규보,1168 – 1241) of Goryeo Dynasty
    • Korean is passionate with this flower as shown from Korean literature 1400 years ago. It is the national emblem of South Korea that appears on many official documents and is also written into the National Anthem as follows:

    A thousand miles of splendid rivers and mountains, filled with mugunghwa—
    Great Korean People, stay true to the Great Korean way.

      The Mugunghwa is known to survive harsh environments,  and spreads out from its origin. This reflects Korean history and reflects Korean people’s survival through times of trials and sufferings; and this is embodied in Korea as an independent nation with a long history. In addition, its tenacity characteristics were reflected in both the tenets of  ITF (International Taekwon-do Federation) and WTF (World Taekwondo Federation). Besides, for its toughness and respectability, mugunghwa is a name bestowed on Korean high-speed trains and even football teams. 


    • These beautiful flowers are edible. The tea is popular as a natural diuretic; it contains vitamin C and minerals, and is used traditionally as a mild medicine. A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. In Indian and Chinese traditional medicine, hibiscus is considered as herbs that have medicinal values.
    • Hibiscus are also national flowers of  Malaysia – Hibiscus Rosa Sinesis and Haiti (Species unsure and may be still unofficial)
      • A mythological fiction, Xuanzhongji (Hanja:玄中記), written in the Eastern Jin Dynasty (Hanja:東晉) of China mentions, “The Land of Wisemen is spread for 1,000 li where mugungwha flowers bloom plentifully.”(君子之國,地方千里,多木槿之華) .
      • Hibiscus Syriacus L. are also called Roses of Sharon but Roses of Sharon not only refers to Hibiscus Syriacus L. but also Hypericum calycinum (picture below), another evergreen flowering shrub native to southeast Europe and southwest Asia

       Hypericum calycinum



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