This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis. China-Rose Hibiscus.
Calyx duplex, exterior polyphyllus. Capsula 5-locularis, polysperma.
HIBISCUS Rosa Sinensis foliis ovatis acuminatis serratis, caule arboreo. Linn. Syst. Vegetab. ed. 14. Murr. p. 629. Ait. Hort. Kew. p. 629.
ALCEA javanica arborescens, flore pleno rubicundo. Breyn. cent. 121. t. 56.
HIBISCUS javanica. Mill. Dict. ed. 6. 4to. by whom cultivated in 1731.
Rumphius in his Herbarium Amboinense gives an excellent account of this beautiful native of the East-Indies, accompanied by a representation of it with double flowers, in which state it is more particularly cultivated in all the gardens in India, as well as China; he informs us that it grows to the full size of our hazel, and that it varies with white flowers.
The inhabitants of India, he observes, are extremely partial to whatever is red, they consider it as a colour which tends to exhilarate; and hence they not only cultivate this plant universally in their gardens, but use its flowers on all occasions of festivity, and even in their sepulchral rites: he mentions also an oeconomical purpose to which the flowers are applied, little consistent with their elegance and beauty, that of blacking shoes, whence their name of Rosae calceolariae; the shoes, after the colour is imparted to them, are rubbed with the hand, to give them a gloss, and which thereby receives a blueish tinge, to discharge which they have recourse to lemon juice.
With us it is kept in the stove, where it thrives and flowers readily during most of the summer; the single blossoms last but a short time, yet their superiority arising from the curious and beautiful structure of the interior parts of the flower, compensates for the shortness of their duration.
It is usually increased by cuttings.