Puarangi – Native Hibiscus Hibiscus trionum
Puarangi, a short lived perennial, was considered to be a native plant but more recently considered to be of African origin, possible brought here by the Maori. Here in the cool South Island it is better treated as an annual.
H. trionum grows to 50 – 80 cms high and has bright green, slightly bristly green deeply serrated leaves. The hibiscus type flowers last only for a day and vary from cream to soft yellow with maroon-purple centres. The bubble-like seed pods have resulted in a common name “bladder plant”. It grows from seeds or cuttings taken in Summer.
H. diversifolius resembles H. trionum but has prickly stems and grows up to 2 metres. It is rare and prefers wild damp or swampy areas. H. richardsonii is also rare. It grows to 1 m high in coastal areas in the North Island and on some off-shore islands. The flowers do not have the dark centres of the other two varieties. Stock love to eat it.
All three species are known as Puarangi.