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The history of hibiscus hybridization in Hawaiʻi with Hibiscus Lady

A hibiscus in Palolo on Oʻahu.
Catherine Cruz
A hibiscus in Palolo on Oʻahu.

Jill Coryell, also known as the Hibiscus Lady, fell hard for hibiscus. She credits Hawaiʻi botanist Isabella Abbott for getting her into ethnobotany. That led to her involvement in the Hibiscus Society and her life’s work in hybridizing hibiscus. Over 21 years, Coryell said she has probably created about 1,000 hibiscus hybrids.

Coryell's research into the Hawaiʻi history of this flower provides the context of how this hobby blossomed over the last century. Coryell continues to propagate plants at her nursery on Oʻahu’s North Shore and share her joy for this special flower that is deeply rooted in her heart.

This interview aired on The Conversation on April 26, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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