Flor de Maga vs. Hibiscus

Written by Larissa Smith
Updated: August 4, 2023
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Can you tell the difference between flor de maga vs. hibiscus? Not many can at first glance.

The first thing to note is that both flor de maga and hibiscus flowers are out-of-this-world beautiful, so if you want something vibrant for your garden or landscape, either option will work. However, when it comes to their uses and benefits, there are some major differences.

It’s easy to confuse flor de maga and hibiscus flowers when unfamiliar with them because they both look similar and are part of the Malvaceae family. But they are very different in their appearance, growing requirements, and taste.

In detail, let’s explore the differences between flor de maga vs. hibiscus.

Red hibiscus

Rose of Sharon, rose mallow, althea, tropical hibiscus, and hardy hibiscus are all common names for the hibiscus plant.


Comparing Flor De Maga and Hibiscus

Flor De MagaHibiscus
ClassificationFamily: Malvaceae
Genus: Thespesia
Species: T. grandiflora
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Malvoideae
Tribe: Hibisceae
Genus: Hibiscus
DescriptionFlor de maga flowers grow on trees that can grow to 65 feet tall. They have five overlapping red and pink petals.Hibiscus flowers grow on shrubs or trees and come in various colors, such as red, pink, yellow, white, orange, and more. They can reach 10 feet, and dwarf variants are two to three feet. In addition, the flowers are large and prominent, with five or more petals.
UsesOrnamental and timberHibiscus contains antioxidants, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and B, offering many health benefits when consumed.
Origin and Growing PreferencesNative to Puerto Rico and grows in Florida, Honduras, Hawaii, and Caribbean islands.
– Grows in temperate and tropical climates.
– Prefers partial sunlight.
– Prune to encourage growth.
Native to tropical regions of Asia but found in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.
– Grows in temperate, subtropical, and tropical climates.
– Prefers full sunlight.
– Prune to encourage growth.
– Keep indoors during the winter months.
Special FeaturesLeaves are heart-shaped and reach up to eight inches long.Different hibiscus colors have special meanings in different cultures.

Flor de Maga vs. Hibiscus: Classification

The flor de maga is the national flower of Puerto Rico and grows on maga trees (Thespesia grandiflora). They sometimes get called hibiscuses, even though it is from a different genus and species from the real hibiscus. These beautiful red and pink flowers grow on a tree in tropical and subtropical regions.

Hibiscus is a genus in the large mallow family Malvaceae that consists of hundreds of species. This stunning flowering plant is native to the tropical region of Asia but is also found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Hibiscus is also known as tropical hibiscus, rose of Sharon, and hardy hibiscus and is famous for its big, striking flowers.

Pink Maga flower - Thespesia grandiflora

Flor de maga flowers are mostly ornamental and grow on trees up to 65 feet tall.


Flor de Maga vs. Hibiscus: Description

The Thespesia grandiflora (maga tree) can grow to around 65 feet in natural forests. The flor de maga is a giant, saucer-like flower with green leaves. The stunning red and pink flowers have five cup-shaped, overlapping petals, and make for wonderful flowers that will bring your property to life.

Hibiscuses can reach around 10 feet tall, and the dwarf variant is between two and three feet. In addition, the striking hollyhock-like flowers come in various colors, such as white, red, yellow, orange, and pink, and the petals are big and bold. Since there are more than a couple hundred species of hibiscus, the petals vary in size, shape, and color according to the species. Most hibiscus flowers grow on shrubs, but some species grow on trees.

Flor de Maga vs. Hibiscus: Uses

The flor de maga is mostly an ornamental flower, but the tree is also valuable because it is durable timber. However, hibiscus plants have many uses. Raw hibiscus contains B vitamins, calcium, potassium, and much more, offering amazing health benefits. Studies have shown that hibiscus has antioxidant properties, and you can even lower your blood pressure at a faster rate by drinking two cups of hibiscus tea a day combined with a lifestyle change.

The flor de maga and hibiscus are show-stopping flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery around these magnificent tropical plants.

Rose of Sharon or Hardy Hibiscus

Hibiscus flowers come in a wide variety of different colors, such as the

Hibiscus syriacus

“blue bird.”


Flor de Maga vs. Hibiscus: Origin and How to Grow

The maga tree is endemic to Puerto Rico, but it is widely grown as an ornamental tree throughout Florida, Honduras, and Hawaii. On the other hand, the hibiscus is native to many subtropical and tropical climate regions throughout the world. So, keep your eyes open for these beautiful flowers when traveling to these areas!

Both maga trees and hibiscus will bloom at various times throughout the year, but they don’t tolerate extremely cold temperatures since they are tropical trees. Flor de magas requires partial sun to thrive, while hibiscuses do well in full sun during the spring and summer months. In addition, they both have average watering needs, so remember not to give them too much!

To ensure the best blooms throughout the year, prune maga trees and hibiscus shrubs!

Special Features of Flor de Maga and Hibiscus

Maga and hibiscus plants grow in temperate and tropical climates. They are gorgeous and attract many visitors to tropical regions. In addition, gardeners love adding these beauties for a pop of color to their gardens.

The hibiscus is found in a rainbow of colors, and many have special meanings in different cultures. For example, hibiscus flowers with bright and striking colors are considered a symbol of femininity and beauty.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©


  1. USDA, Available here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/elyunque/learning/nature-science/?cid=fsbdev3_042980
  2. National Library of Medicine, Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5583102/
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About the Author

Larissa Smith is a writer for A-Z Animals with years of experience in plant care and wildlife. After years spent in the South African bush while studying Nature Conservation, she found her way to writing about animals and plants in her work. She hopes to inspire others to appreciate and care for the precious world around them. Larissa lives in Florida with her two sons, a miniature golden retriever named Pupples, and a colorful succulent garden. In her spare time, she is tending to her garden, adventuring with her kids, and hosting “Real Housewives” watch parties with her friends.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is flor de maga the same as hibiscus?

The flor de maga is in the same family as the hibiscus but belongs to a different genus and species. It is more closely related to cotton.

Does hibiscus come back every year?

Yes! Tropical hibiscus species will remain evergreen when grown in warm climates, while cold, hardy hibiscus species will stay dormant in the winter months and bloom in the spring.

What is hibiscus good for?

Hibiscus tea contains antioxidants such as anthocyanins which are great for helping to boost your immune system and may reduce your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.