Found this interesting little fellow in the display house at Pukekura Park recently. But between the accent of the chap telling me what it was and my note taking, I couldn’t find the darn thing listed anywhere when I got home. Luckily, I decided to flip through my copy of Stirling Macoboy’s What Shrub is That? (1989) – looking for something else – and found the answer.
Triplochlamys multiflora, also known as Pavonia multiflora, has the rather lovely common names of Shooting Stars or Brazilian Candles and, yes, its homeland is Brazil and, yes, it does need at least subtropical conditions or, as they have in New Plymouth, grow it in inside in favourable conditions – high temperatures and humidity, good light but no direct sun, and plenty of water year-round. And as its name suggests it bears a multitude of flowers.
My mumbling staffer at Pukekura Park reckoned it was a ‘tropical hibiscus’, whatever that means. But he was sort-of right – both Pavonia multiflora and hibiscus are members of the Malvaceae family (just as bottlebrush and pohutukawa are both members of the Myrtaceae family) and you can see the resemblance.
From what I can see online, the plant is available to those living overseas from specialist nurseries but I can’t track down a seller in New Zealand … although there are still a few, smaller niche nurseries that don’t have a website so it may be possible to find it. If anyone knows, you might like to leave a comment to point others in the right direction.