Hibiscus Species, 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)
Synonym:Abelmoschus verrucosus
Synonym:Furcaria cannabina
Synonym:Hibiscus malangensis
Synonym:Hibiscus sabdariffa var. altissima
Synonym:Hibiscus vanderystii
» View all varieties of Hibiscus


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

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

Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

El Mirage, Arizona

Bradley, Florida

Bronson, 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

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

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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Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 17, 2021, SomeFolktoo from Albuquerque, NM wrote:

Hello , I would live to do a trial planting of Kenaf this year, any one got any seeds or know the hook-up? I'm in New Mexico


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.


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.


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.


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 ca... read more