Hibiscus insularis (Philip Island Hibiscus)

Today, September 2012, we finally observed the Philip Island Hibiscus in bloom at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and managed to capture an image.

I learned about this plant some years ago while writing up my research on Allan Cunningham Botanist Explorer 1791-1839. It’s very rare. I’ve known for some time that it bloomed in September but every year prior to 2012 I either forgot about it or a visit to the Sydney Botanic Gardens was inconvenient.

The information on Wikipedia is as follows: “The Philip Island Hibiscus (Hibiscus insularis) is a species of hibiscus that is endemic to Phillip Island, a small island to the south of Norfolk Island. The entire natural extent of this species is just two small clumps, and each clump apparently consists of multiple separate stems of a single genotype. It produces greenish-yellow flowers that fade to mauve through most of the year. Horticultural use of the Philip Island Hibiscus has greatly increased the number of plants (though not in its natural environment) but as it is usually propagated by cuttings the number of genotypes is still extremely small. This species is listed as Critically Endangered under Australian federal environment legislation.”

Allan Cunningham had a nail biting experience while botanising on Philip Island in 1830. He wrote about it in his journal:

About five o’clock, or thereabouts, whilst it was still dark, I was suddenly awoke in my bed, by three men rushing into my tent, and in an alarming boisterous tone desiring me to rouse up, as they had taken the settlement, and had put the commandant in gaol, and hurried me to dress myself, as I was, they said to go with them. In an instant, before I was well awake, or had time to consider the character of the individuals who were about me, a fire-stick was brought into the tent by one of the party, and on lighting a candle, which they had found, they seized my fire arms, and hastily turning over my baggage, carried off my bedding, wearing apparel, a hamper of cooking utensils, the whole of my provisions, &c. more . . .