A Rare Honour

Our Phillip Island Hibiscus, Hibiscus insularis, has been immortalised in a botanical illustration by Halina Steele. This work is now part of the collections of the National Herbarium of NSW…

“Dear Jerry

I have finally finished my painting of Hibiscus insularis and as you were kind enough to send me photos of this plant, I thought you might like to see the finished product. When I visited Mt Annan Botanic Gardens, I was lucky enough to see a couple of small flowers. I noticed that these flowers lacked the maroon centre that presented in the flowers in your photos. To represent both the plants growing at Mt Annan (which was the main object of this exercise) and the true type of the species, I included both forms in my painting with an explanatory note on the back (copy attached).

Mt Annan Botanic Gardens
Mt Annan Botanic Gardens (Photo credit: petrichor)

I have been advised by the Florilegium Society at the RBG Sydney that my painting has been accepted and will now be part of the permanent collection of the Botanic Gardens Trust held at the National Herbarium of NSW.

Once again, thank you for your help.

Kindest regards


P.S. As you will appreciate, it is very difficult obtaining accurate colour results with photographs. The original painting is not as yellow as appears in the photo.

Halina Steele
Hibiscus insularis (family Malvaceae)
Phillip Island Hibiscus
Mt Annan Botanic Gardens
Accession Number: AD 880412
Bed 3, Connections Garden
Date Specimen Obtained: 28 March 2008

Hibiscus insularis (Family Malvaceae)
Phillip Island Hibiscus

Hibiscus insularis is endemic to Phillip Island in the Norfolk Island Group, hence its common name, Phillip Island Hibiscus. The Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts has listed this plant as critically endangered under the EPBC Act 1999.

The flowers on the plants at Mt Annan Botanic Gardens (which was my main reference source), and photographs of flowers at the Booderee National Park Botanic Gardens, did not present the maroon centre which is a characteristic of the flower of plants growing in the wild at Phillip Island or in photographs provided by Jerry Coleby-Williams and Colleen Keena both from Queensland. To represent the true type of the species, I have included both forms of flowers in this painting.


In addition to the assistance provided by Caz McCallum, Assistant Director, and Tracey Armstrong, Gardens Information Officer, from Mt Annan Botanic Gardens, the following people also provided advice, photographs and assistance in the preparation of this painting:

Louisa Murray, Collections Manager and A/g Resources Manager, National Herbarium of NSW;
Stig Pedersen, Collections Officer, Booderee National Park Botanic Gardens, NSW;
Jerry Coleby-Williams, Dip. Hort. (Kew), RHS, MAIH;
Colleen and Geoff Keena, growers of Australian Native Hibiscus (www.hibiscus.org), Queensland.

Specimen Obtained From

Mt Annan Botanic Gardens
Accession Number: AD 880412
Bed 3, Connections Garden
Date: 28 March 2008

Halina Steele
Watercolour/ Gouache
June 2008


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.