The structure of the gumamela plant

Written by mark pendergast
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The structure of the gumamela plant
Gumamela is a Filipino word for hibiscus. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The gumamela plant, the Filipino name for the hibiscus plant, specifically the Chinese hibiscus or Hibiscus rosa-sinenisis L., originated in China and has become a widely grown ornamental in the Philippines. A tropical shrub that bears showy, colourful blossoms, the gumamela is also grown as a hedge or screen.

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Growth habit

The gumamela's basic structure is that of a shrub, although you can sometimes train it to grow as a small tree. The plant may grow as high as 9 m (30 feet) in the wild, but typically grows about 3 to 4.5 m (10 to 15 feet) high in cultivation, with a spread of about 1.8 to 3 m (6 to 10 feet). The gumamela has a moderate density regarding the number of branches per plant and typically lives for six to 10 years.


The flowers of the gumamela might have a single or double structure. Double flowers produce more petals than normal blooms, which gives them a showier look many gardeners appreciate. Blossoms typically last for only one day before wilting; however, the plant compensates by having a long blooming season. Flowers have a bell shape, come in a wide variety of colours and average about 10 cm (4 inches) wide. A stem bears only one flower.

Trunk and leaves

The gumamela has a multi-stem trunk structure, and each stem has a hard texture and medium thickness. The basic form of the leaves is ovate, with the leaves having a petiole, or leafstalk. The leaves are simple, meaning each petiole bears a single leaf blade. Each blade reaches about 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 inches) in length. Serrations cover the edges of the leaves, which maintain a dark green colour all year-round.


Gumamela bears a brown non-showy fruit, a hard capsule containing several seeds. About 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) long, the fruit has an oval shape. Blossoms occur on new wood. For this reason, deadheading the tips of new branches in the spring and summer increases bloom production. Giving the gumamela too much or too little water or over-fertilising it can cause buds to fall off. Growers have produced numerous cultivars of the plant, with some varieties having various structural differences from the typical gumamela plant.

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