H. syriacus is a flowering shrub in the plant family Malvaceae native to much of Asia, though not, as Linnaeus thought, to Syria, in spite of the name he gave it. It is upright and vase-shaped, reaching 2–4 m in height. It is widely planted in areas with hot summers for its very attractive white, pink, red, lavender, or purple large and edible flowers. Individual flowers are short-lived, lasting only a day. However, numerous flower buds are produced on the shrub's new growth, which provides prolific flowering over a long summer blooming period (July–September). Shoots make interesting indoor vase cuttings, as they stay green for a long time. In the vase some new flowers may open from the more mature flower buds. The species has naturalized very well in many suburban areas, and might even be termed slightly invasive, so frequently does it seed around.
The Rose of Sharon propagtes by seeds or grafting. Thanks to its relative hardiness, the plant grows well even if the environment isn't suitable for other flowering plants, including courtyards of most homes.
The seeds are planted between February and March. Grafting is done either in the spring prior to blooming or after the monsoon season. Once the roots are set, generally within two years of planting, the plant can be transplanted to the final desired location.
- In the Chinese Classical text, Old Book of Tang (舊唐書), the Kingdom of Shilla is introduced as the 'Nation of Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon).'
- Also, in the Chinese Classical Text "Collection of the Mountains and Seas (君子國)," the flower is described as 'fully blooming in the morning only to wither away in the evening.'
- Prior to the Chosun Kingdom, the flower was also known as mokgun(木槿) or geunhwa(槿花), which simply translates to hibicus or hibicus flower. It was also known as soun(舜).
- Mugunghwa so strongly associated with Korea that is prominently featured in the refrain or chorus of the Korean national anthem, Aegeukga. It is also the name of one of the most popular national rail lines in South Korea
The Rose of Sharon is generally used as ornamental flower, but also has other uses. The dried petals can be used as raw materials for paper or for medicinal purposes. The young leaves can be eaten or used as tea along with the flower. The main growing regions of the flower are from subtropical to tropica regions, but have been adapted in the last century to grow in most regions around the world.
- In the language of flowers, the Rose of Sharon signifies "Delicate Beauty."
- It is believed that the Crusaders introduced the flower from Syria to Europe.
- Thanks to its strong branches, the bush is often used as fencing or barriers.
- In Korea, mugunghwa tea is used as a cure for insomnia.
- There is no evidence to suggest the curative properties of the sap. In the past, the flower has been thought to cure many adverse conditions, such as athlete's feet, digestive and menstrual irregularities, dirrhea, and eye infection.