Family • Malvaceae - Hibiscus mutabilis Linn. - CONFEDERATE ROSE - Mu fu rong

Scientifric names

Hibiscus mutabilis Linn.
Hibiscus sinensis Mill.
Ketmia mutabilis (L.) Moench

Common names

Amapola (Tag.)
Mapula (Tag.)
Changing rose (Engl.)
Chinese rose (Engl.)
Confederate rose (Engl.)
Cotton rose (Engl.)
Cotton rose hibiscus (Engl.)
Dixie rose-mallow (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Mu fu rong, Fu rong hua, Shan fu rong.
JAPANESE: Fuyoo, Fuyou.
KOREAN: Bu yong.
SPANISH: Rosa algodon.
THAI: Phuttan.


The species name lives up to the epithet, mutabilis meaning changeable or variable. Many of the common names draw upon its colorful mutability – opening up pale pink or white and darkening into shades of red as the day advances. Confederate Rose is a common name that colors the epithet with the drama of the Civil War, a felled soldier bleeding unto a bed of white hibiscus flowers, the petals slowly soaking red.

Amapola is an erect, branched bushy shrub or small tree, about 2 to 4 meters high, densely covered with short, grayish, stellate hairs. Leaves are broadly ovate to orbicular ovate, 5-lobed or 5-angled, 7 to 20 centimeters long, with pointed tip, heart-shaped base and toothed margins. Calyx is 3 to 4 centimeterslong, with 5 oblong-ovate lobes, connate below. Corolla is 10 to 12 centimeters in diameter, single or double, opening pale pink or nearly white, growing darker in color as the day advances.

– Occasionally planted for ornamental purposes in the larger towns of the Archipelago.
– Not spontaneous.
– Native of the Old World.
– Now pantropic.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Novel galactonic acid-binding hexameric lectin from Hibiscus mutabilis seeds with antiproliferative and potent HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibitory activities / Sze Kwan Lam and Tzi Bun Ng / Acta Biochinica Polonic • Vol. 56 No. 4/2009, 649–654

(2) Flavonol Glycosides in the Flowers of Hibiscus mutabilis f. versicolor / Nariyuki Ishikura / Agri Biol Chem, 46 (6), 1705-1706, 1982

(3) Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis), the Changeable Beauty / Marie Harrison / Dave’s Garden

(4) Studies on chemical constituents of Hibiscus mutabilis / Yao Li-yun, Lu Yang, Chen Ze-nai / Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs, 2003-03

(5) Evaluation of Antioxidant, Anti-tyrosinase and Antibacterial Activities of Selected Hibiscus Species / S K Wong, Y Y Lim and E W C Chan / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14: 781-96. 2010.

(6) Sorting Hibiscus names / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASEStudy on bacteriostasis of extracts of Hibiscus mutabili leaf

(7) Study on bacteriostasis of extracts of Hibiscus mutabili leaf / Li Chang-ling, Liu Sheng-gui et al / Science and Technology of Food Industry, 2009-11

(8) A polyphenol rescues lipid induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle cells and adipocytes / Bhaskarjyoti Gogoi, Priyajit Chatterjee, Sandip Mukherjee, Alak Kumar Buragohain, Samir Bhattacharya, Suman Dasgupta / Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Volume 452, Issue 3, 26 September 2014, Pages 382–388

(9) Phytochemical and Pharmacological Evaluation of Hibiscus mutabilis leaves / Vandana H. Barve*, S. N. Hiremath, Shashikant. R. Pattan and S. C. Pal / J. Chem. Pharm. Res., 2010, 2(1): 300-309

(10) Antidiabetic Activity of Methanolic Extract of Hibiscus Mutabilis Leaves Against Alloxan Induced Diabetes in Rats/ Sattwik Das*, Shailendra Lariya and Girendra Kumar Gautam / INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARMACEUTICAL AND CHEMICAL SCIENCES, Vol. 2 (3) Jul-Sep 2013

(11) Hepatoprotective effect of standardized antioxidant phenolic fractions of Hibiscus mutabilis Linn. / Subhash C. Mandal, Subodh C. Pal and Dipak N. Raut* / Der Pharmacia Sinica, 2014, 5(3):46-51

(12) Analyses for Flavonoid Aglycones in Fresh and Preserved Hibiscus Flowers* / Lorraine S. Puckhaber, Robert D. Stipanovic, and Georgia A. Bost / Trends in new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.

(13) Famine Foods / Compiled by Robert Freedman /

– Study isolated five flavonol glycosides from the ethanol extract of petals.
– Study isolated ten compounds: tetracosanoic acid, B-sitosterol, daucosterol, salicylic acid, emodin, rutin, kaemferol-3-O-B-rutinoside, kaemferol-3-O-B-robinobinoside, kaemferol-3-O-B-D-(6-E-p-hy-droxycinnamoyl)-glucopyranoside.
– Study yielded various compounds from different plant parts: stem (Naringenin-5,7-dimethyl ether,4′-β-D-xylopyranosyl- β-D-arabinopyranoside, Eriodictyol-5,7-dimethyl ether-4′-β-D- arabinopyranoside), flowers (Quercetin, Quercemeritrine, Quercetin-3-D-Xyloside, Quercetin-3-sambubioside, Isoquercetin, Meratrin, Hybridin, Kaempferol, Hyperin, Guaijaverin, Cyanidine-3-xlosyl glucose, Cyanidin-3-monoglucoside, Hibiscones, Hibiscoquinones); and leaves ( β-Sitosterol, β-Carotene, Quercetin).
– Study on flavonoid aglycones in fresh flowers yielded quercitin, 80 mg/g fresh tissue; kaempferol, 8 mg/g; and cyananidin, 5 mg/g.

– Flowers are considered pectoral, emollient and cooling.
– Considered expectorant, cooling, antidotal.

Parts used
Leaves, roots, flowers.

– Famine food: In China, leaves reportedly used as famine food, boiled, then eaten with oil and salt.

– In China, flowers and leaves considered expectorant, cooling, analgesic and antidote to all kinds of poison.
– In China medicine, leaves one of the component in a medicine used for treating tuberculous lymphadenitis; the flowers for treating nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
– Decoction of flowers considered pectoral.
– Used for persistent coughs, menorrhagia, dysuria and wounds, especially burns and scalds that are slow to heal.
– Leaves and flowers applied to swellings and skin infections.
– Infusion of flowers used for chest and pulmonary complaints; also used as stimulant.

Study Findings
• Antiproliferative / Anti-HIV1 Reverse Transcriptase / Lectin: Study isolated a hexameric 150-kDa lectin from dried H mutabilis seeds. The galactonic acid-binding lectin potently inhibited HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. It also exhibited weak antiproliferative activity towards hepatoma HepG2 cells and breast cancer MCF-7 cells.
• Nitric Oxide Scavenging Activity: Study of the ethanol extracts of four medicinal plants, including Hibiscus mutabilis, showed dose-dependent NO scavenging activity. Results suggest a potential for the plants as novel therapeutic agents in the regulation of pathologic conditions caused by excessive generation of NO and its oxidation product.
• Anti-Tyrosinase Activity: In a study of four species of Hibiscus, H mutabilis was next to H tiliaceus in anti-tyrosinase activity.
• Bacteriostasis: In a study of extracts of H. mutabilis, the bacteriostasis effect was highest with E. coli and best with a 70% alcohol extract.
• Ferulic Acid / Leaves / Anti-Diabetic: Ferulic acid (FRL) purified from the leaves of Hibiscus mutabilis, showed impressive effects in preventing saturated fatty acid (SFA)induced defects through reduction of insulin receptor ß in skeletal muscle cells. Impairment of insuling signaling molecules by SFA was waived by the FRL. In high fat diet fed diabetic rats, FRL reduced blood glucose level and enhanced lipid uptake activity of adipocytes isolated from adipose tissue. Collective, FRL exhibited features for prevention of lipid induced insulin resistance, with a therapeutic potential use for T2DM.
• Antimicrobial / Anti-Inflammatory: Antimicrobial testing on various organisms showed satisfactory results. A methanolic extract showed good activity against Bacillus subtilis. An ethyl acetate extract showed comparable anti-inflammatory activity when compared to standard drug Nimuselide.
• Antidiabetic / Leaves: Study evaluated a methanolic extract of leaves for anti-diabetic activity in alloxan induced diabetic wistar rats. Results showed significant protection and maximum reductionn in glucose in comparison to standard glibenclamide.
• Hepatoprotective / Leaves: Defatted phenolic fraction of leaf, stem, and flowers of Hibiscus mutabilis was evaluated against carbon tetrachloride induced hepatic injuries in rats. Results showed curative potential of the defatted antioxidant ethanolic fractions with treatment significantly modulated the enzymes to normal values accompanied by histopathological evidence.

Flower extracts in the cybermarket.