Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Kenaf, Brown Indian Hemp
Hibiscus cannabinus

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hibiscus (hi-BIS-kus) (Info)
Species: cannabinus (kan-na-BIN-us) (Info)

» View all varieties of Hibiscus

29 members have or want this plant for trade.

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Bloom Color:
Scarlet (Dark Red)

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 13 photos.
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4 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rama68 On Oct 7, 2014, Rama68 from Plano, TX wrote:

This plant is native to south India. The leaves are sour tasting and they are used extensively in south Indian cooking. The leaves are high in Iron content and can be used as Iron supplement. You can search for "gongura recipes" in internet for tasty vegetarian recipes from south India.

Positive Tabacum On Oct 17, 2013, Tabacum from Mantua, OH (Zone 5a) wrote:

Third year to plant this hemp...located in northeastern Ohio.....eaily grown in my black carlisle muckland...makes a beautiful background plant...hemp seeds survived our cold winter, along with flooding...came up by itself in other garden areas.

Positive smurfwv On Sep 23, 2010, smurfwv from Cabin Creek, WV (Zone 6a) wrote:

LOVE this hibiscus! The only drawback is it goes where it wants, in one season, from seed, my hibiscus has gotten 5 feet tall and 10 fet long by 5 feet wide! HUGE plant. It bloomed for me in April and May, then it stopped blooming in the summer heat, and started back up as the night temps dropped in the 50's.

Everyone should try this plant, its absolutely gorgeous. Another downfall, the seed pods have spines inside and out so wear gloves to protect fingers, its worse than fiberglass insulation.

Positive htop On Apr 2, 2009, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have grown this plant. Hibisus cannabinus is often confused with Hibiscus radiatus so I have completed research in an attempt to find distinguishing characteristics that differientiate the 2 plants. Hibiscus radiatus is an allotetraploid of Hibiscus cannabinus and perhaps Hibiscus surratensis. The term allotetraploid refers to an organism that contains four complete copies of the genome, but two (and rarely, one) of the copies are from a different species than the other two copies. H. cannabinus leaves and calyx lobes are glandular and has epicalyx (a series of bracts subtending and resembling a calyx) segments attached to the calyx which are not characteristics of H. radiata. H. cannabinus has an elongate nectary gland at the base of the lower leaf midrib and on the midvein of each calyx lobe as well as a whitish tomentellum on the calyx which H. radiatus does not have. H. radiatus has a tooth-like appendage below the apex on the inner surface of the epicalyx bractlets which is not present on H. cannbinus.. H. cannabinus blooms are 4 to 6 inches across; whereas, H. radiatus has 3 to 3.5 inch across blooms. In many references, H. radiatus is said to grow a little over 3 feet tall; however, in cultivation, it can grow 6 to 8 feet tall. In cultivation H. cannabinus can grow 12 to 15 feet tall. Both can have cerise-pink (mauve-pink, burgandy-pink) that have a dark center. H. radiatus var. flore purpureo is one with rose-purple petals. I have grown H. cannabinus. Judging from photos that I know correctly identify H. radiatus, the leaflets of H. radiatus appear to broaden more in their middle sections as compared to H. cannabinus leaflets. The above information has been gathered from various scientific resources on the internet. Many websites I believe have misidentified H. cannabinus as H. radiata and vice-a-versa. I do not have any books which include detailed descriptions of H. radiatus nor H. cannabinus. Please let me know if any of the above information is incorrect and please add information that may be of assistance with the identification of H. radiata and H. cannabinus.

Note: H. cannabinus and H. radiatus are deer resistant due to the tiny thorns on the undersides of their leaves and along their stems.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

El Mirage, Arizona
Bradley, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Crestview, Florida
Longwood, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Winfield, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Sackets Harbor, New York
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Malin, Oregon
Colver, Pennsylvania
North Augusta, South Carolina
Harrison, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Beaumont, Texas
Belton, Texas
Cedar Park, Texas
Plano, Texas
Port Bolivar, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Cabin Creek, West Virginia

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