hi·​bis·​cus hī-ˈbi-skəs How to pronounce hibiscus (audio)
: any of a large genus (Hibiscus) of herbs, shrubs, or small trees of the mallow family with large showy flowers and usually dentate leaves

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There are about 250 species of shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants in the genus Hibiscus, which belongs to the mallow family. They are native to warm temperate and tropical regions. Several are cultivated as ornamentals for their showy flowers. The tropical Chinese or Hawaiian hibiscus, which is also called China rose, has large, somewhat bell-shaped reddish blossoms. The East African hibiscus, a drooping shrub, is often grown in hanging baskets indoors.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Its trees now include a hibiscus, a banyan, a ficus and a fig, Shabolin said. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Mar. 2023 Living in a harsher climate, another reviewer brings their lavender, rosemary, and hibiscus plants inside the house for six months come winter. Gabriela Izquierdo, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Jan. 2023 This is a drink derived from the hibiscus plant that’s indigenous to Africa and was brought to the Americas during the slave trade. Kizzy Cox, Essence, 20 Dec. 2022 Blueberry muffins might come with a sharp hit of ginger, while almond-apricot scones might be perfumed with hibiscus. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 Mar. 2022 This year, pick up a sinuous, garnet-hued bottle of Sorel Liqueur ($40), an alcoholic riff on the traditional Caribbean hibiscus drink—the flower’s tart, tannic intensity tempered by warm veins of clove, cassia, and ginger. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2021 But strong hibiscus tea adds charming floral notes, with cinnamon providing a touch of exotic spice and spiced rum bringing an alluring kick. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 25 Oct. 2021 Beer, wine and nonalcoholic drinks like hibiscus tea and sparkling water are available, both for dine-in guests and to take home. Bahar Anooshahr, The Arizona Republic, 18 Jan. 2023 Sip on unsweetened herbal tea like hibiscus tea for a hydrating and refreshing boost. Good Housekeeping, 6 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hibiscus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


New Latin, from Latin, marshmallow

First Known Use

1706, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hibiscus was in 1706

Dictionary Entries Near hibiscus

Cite this Entry

“Hibiscus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hibiscus. Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


hi·​bis·​cus hī-ˈbis-kəs How to pronounce hibiscus (audio)
plural hibiscuses
: any of a large genus of herbs, shrubs, or small trees related to the mallow and having toothed leaves and large showy flowers

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