Hibiscus congestiflorus (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Hibiscus congestiflorus Hochr.

Protologue: Annuaire Conserv. Jard. Bot. Genève 10: 21 (1906).
Family: Malvaceae

Origin and geographic distribution

Hibiscus congestiflorus is distributed from Côte d’Ivoire eastward to the Central African Republic.


In Nigeria fibre is extracted from the stem bark. In Côte d’Ivoire the leaves are sometimes used as a vegetable and prepared in sauce, but this use is restricted to periods of shortage of other vegetables.


The nutritional composition of edible leaves from Côte d’Ivoire was per 100 g: water 76.8 g, energy 170 kJ (41 kcal), protein 6.4 g, fat 0.9 g, carbohydrate 1.6 g, dietary fibre 11.4 g, riboflavin 0.23 mg and ascorbic acid 33.8 mg. The mucilage content of the leaves is 5.7%.


Annual erect herb up to 3 m tall, often unbranched; stem pilose. Leaves alternate, simple; blade linear-lanceolate, up to 18 cm × 4 cm, often hastate at the base, margin serrulate, lower surface slightly pubescent. Flowers crowded at the apex of the shoots, regular, bisexual, 5-merous, 4–6.5 cm long; pedicel very short; epicalyx bracts linear, about as long as the calyx, ciliate; petals yellow with purple centre; stamens numerous, united for most of their length into a staminal column; ovary superior. Fruit a dry capsule, splitting along the midribs. Seeds kidney-shaped.

In West Africa flowering and fruiting of Hibiscus congestiflorus usually occur in October–February.

Hibiscus comprises c. 200 species distributed mainly in the tropics and subtropics; many of them are grown as ornamentals. The bark fibre of several other West African Hibiscus species is used. Hibiscus comoensis A.Chev. ex Hutch. & Dalz. is a poorly known ruderal shrub or small tree, restricted to Guinea, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. In Côte d’Ivoire its bark is used for tying in hut construction. Hibiscus owariensis P.Beauv. is a shrubby species up to 3 m tall distributed from Côte d’Ivoire to Nigeria, with odd records from Rwanda and Sudan. Its bark fibre is of poor quality but is used in Ghana. Hibiscus scotellii Baker f. is an erect fibrous herb up to 2 m tall, distributed in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana. In Sierra Leone its bark fibre is used for making rope. Hibiscus squamosus Hochr. is an annual herb c. 1 m tall, distributed from Senegal eastward to Chad and the Central African Republic. It yields a bark fibre of good quality that is used in Ghana. In Togo leaves collected from the wild are eaten cooked as a vegetable. Hibiscus sterculiifolius (Guill. & Perr.) Steud. (synonym: Hibiscus quinquelobus G.Don) is a shrub or small tree up to 2.5 m tall, distributed from Senegal to Nigeria, but far from common. Its fibre is locally used for making cordage, thread, sacks and fishing lines and nets. In Côte d’Ivoire its bark is used for tying in hut construction and basketry. Early in the 20th century wild stands have been exploited in Guinea and small quantities of fibre have been exported. Trees can be lopped and the resulting suckers produce the best quality fibre. The wood is fairly hard and can be used to make furniture.


Hibiscus congestiflorus usually occurs in savanna, grassland, gallery forest and fallows, up to 800 m altitude.


In Côte d’Ivoire Hibiscus congestiflorus is spared during land clearing.

Genetic resources

Little is known about the conservation status of the species.


The limited amount of available information on Hibiscus congestiflorus limits assessment of its prospects. Further ethnobotanical investigations particularly on the use as vegetable in the distribution area might be worthwhile. Several other West African Hibiscus species have potential as fibre producers.

Major references

  • Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
  • Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
  • Herzog, F., Gautier-Béguin, F. & Müller, K., 1996. Uncultivated plants for human nutrition in Côte d’Ivoire. In: Leakey, R.R.B., Temu, A.B., Melnyk, M. & Vantomme, P. (Editors). Domestication and commercialization of non-timber forest products in agroforestry systems. Proceedings of an international conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, 19–23 February 1996. FAO, Rome, Italy. pp. 40–50.
  • Keay, R.W.J., 1958. Malvaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 335–350.

Other references

  • Batawila, K., Akpavi, S., Wala, K., Kanda, M., Vodouhe, R. & Akpagana, K., 2007. Diversité et gestion des legumes de cueillette au Togo. African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development 7(3).
  • Gautier-Béguin, D., 1992. Plantes de cueillette à utilisation alimentaire en Côte d’Ivoire Centrale. Boissiera 46. 341 pp.
  • Herzog, F.M., 1992. Etude biochimique et nutritionnelle des plantes alimentaires sauvages dans le sud du V-Baoulé, Côte d'Ivoire. Ph.D. thesis, Ecole Polytechnique Federale, Zürich, Switzerland. 122 pp.
  • Herzog, F., Farah, Z. & Amado, R., 1993. Nutritive value of four wild vegetables in Côte d'Ivoire. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 63(3): 234–238.
  • Kirby, R.H., 1963. Vegetable fibres: botany, cultivation, and utilization. Leonard Hill, London, United Kingdom & Interscience Publishers, New York, United States. 464 pp.
  • Medina, J.C., 1959. Plantas fibrosas da flora mundial. Instituto Agronômico Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 913 pp.
  • Tra Bi, F.H., 1997. Utilisations des plantes, par l’homme, dans les forêts classées du Haut-Sassandra et de Scio, en Côte d’Ivoire. Thèse pour obtenir le Doctorat de troisième cycle, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Université de Cocody, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 215 pp.


  • E.G. Achigan Dako, PROTA Network Office Africa, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya

Correct citation of this article

Achigan-Dako, E.G., 2011. Hibiscus congestiflorus Hochr. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.

Accessed 7 March 2020.