What kind of flower is this?
July 11, 2005 6:56 PM   Subscribe

What kind of flower is this?
posted by paul_smatatoes to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
 
It's a Hibiscus.
posted by iconomy at 6:58 PM on July 11, 2005


Ooops - forgot to link. I have a zillion Hibiscus plants, potted and planted, inside and outside. Is there something you wanted to know about it?
posted by iconomy at 7:00 PM on July 11, 2005


She's right.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:27 PM on July 11, 2005


It's a gumamela! At least that's what we call it in the Philippines, otherwise known as hibiscus rosasinensis, or just plain hibiscus. It's pretty, medicinal, and sometimes children pound up its petals to mix with water in making a bubble-blowing solution.
posted by furious blush at 7:28 PM on July 11, 2005


It's also known as Rose of Sharon, China Rose, and Marsh Mallow...a lot of other names too. I forget most of them. I didn't know you could pound down the petals and make bubble soap. How cool.
posted by iconomy at 7:35 PM on July 11, 2005


Hibiscus is the same as marsh mallow? Really? As in marshmallows? Cool if I'm not totally confusing myself here.
posted by amtho at 7:44 PM on July 11, 2005


Yep iconomy. The bubbly soap was usually water with a bit of powdered detergent and crushed gumamelas (including leaves). They were the magic ingredient that made the bubbles bigger and stronger. The bubble wands were made of singular strands of walis tingting (an hardy broom made with midribs of palm leaves) looped at one end. Ah, memories!
posted by furious blush at 7:51 PM on July 11, 2005


Well there are really two different plants - one is Marshmallow, and one is a Marsh Mallow - a kind of Hibiscus that grows in marshes. The candy is made from Marshmallow, not the Marsh Mallow. But you can make bubble soap with them, apparently, which is so much cooler. I am so going to make bubble soap tomorrow, furious blush!
posted by iconomy at 7:56 PM on July 11, 2005


Huh. Hibiscus. Totally my favorite word for plummy British accents. Thanks, guys!
posted by paul_smatatoes at 7:58 PM on July 11, 2005


Hate to break this to you, but as a soapmaker, I can guarantee you that the bubbles were from the detergent...not the plant matter. :) Soap is the sodium salt of a long chain fatty acid: CH3-(CH2)n-COONa. (Detergents have similar, but different chemistry.)

What the plant matter *can* do, if steeped in a detergent solution overnight, is make the bubbles more colorful. But they do not add any tensile strength or lather capacity. Sorry to burst your childhood...um...bubble, there. ;)

Here's a science link about hibiscus and bubble blowing.


But that is, indeed, a hibiscus.
posted by dejah420 at 8:08 PM on July 11, 2005


Flickr has a group devoted to this kind of identification: ID Please.
posted by caitlinb at 8:19 PM on July 11, 2005


iconomy: you grow hibiscus inside? I'd love to do that. But, they probably need lots of light, yes?
posted by trip and a half at 8:22 PM on July 11, 2005


Awww, I am heartbroken! I don't see any actual debunking in that link, though.

Of course, when you're young, perfecting the recipe for the best bubbly soap becomes a sort of competition with the neighborhood kids, and ALL you know is that soap with flowers is definitely better than soap without. ;)
posted by furious blush at 8:41 PM on July 11, 2005


trip and a half - yes, they do need a lot of light. They can do nicely with low light too, but only for short periods of time, like say, a month or so, and then their leaves start to fall off. I bring all of the indoor ones outside to summer on my patio. The difference in the depth of color of the flowers is amazing when they have full sun! I have a tree hibiscus that I keep in my living room that has the palest peach flowers. When I put it outside for the summer, the flowers turn blazing coral. What's really cool about having them indoors is that they flower all year round.
posted by iconomy at 5:15 AM on July 12, 2005


Awww, I am heartbroken! I don't see any actual debunking in that link, though.

Well, it tells you what the hibiscus plant matter *does*, which is make the bubble more colorful.

You get soap when you mix fats and sodium hydroxide (or the potassium analog for liquid soaps) together. There are no plants that contain both chemical compounds.

Both sodium and potassium salts were originally derived from plant matter...or organic matter; such as wood ashes and water mixed together and left steeping until an egg will float on the top of the solution, but no plant has both properties of alkali and fat. (It would be cool if there were, cause then I wouldn't have to keep a half a ton of sodium hydroxide in the garage, and periodically have to deal with guys in sunglasses that want to know why I'm buying a thermogenic chemical in large quantities. ) :)

You can debunk it yourself by tossing a handful of hibiscus petals and leaves in a food processor and adding a cup of water. Grind, then pour into a container and let steep. (Don't add any detergent or soap.) You'll see that you can let it sit until the water evaporates, and you'll never get a saponified reaction...which is to say, you'll never get bubbles. :)
posted by dejah420 at 12:22 PM on July 12, 2005


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