A few years ago, this was one of the world's most endangered plants. It is a rare and ancient hibiscus, growing only in two or three clumps on uninhabited Phillip Island, just to the south of Norfolk Island. Over the decades it had suffered the predations of rabbits, pigs and goats, which had been placed on Phillip Island for food and sport in the Penal settlement times.
Today we are well underway in removing this beautiful plant from the endangered list. Many of us have specimens growing in our gardens. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney actually has a hedge of it, and it can sometimes be purchased in nurseries.
The proper name for the Phillip Island Hibiscus is "Hibiscus Insularis." It is not a large bush, and is not "showy" like the Hawaiian hibiscus. Most specimens you see have very small leaves. These are actually immature leaves, and are said to remain like this for around twenty years, when the plant finally produces its mature leaves. I have read that the bush rarely flowers before that time. However, our bushes are nothing like that age, and the smaller one produced its first flowers last year. The larger one has just presented us with its first bloom!
This picture shows some buds which will open in the next day or two.
When the flowers first open, they are a beautiful creamy yellow/green.
By the next day they have become a delicate pink.
Finally they change to a red wine colour before they shrivel.
They do not produce masses of blooms, and only flower at a certain time of year - but they are well worth waiting for!