Hibiscus surattensis is a prostrate or climbing annual plant producing stems up to 6 metres long. All parts of the plant, including the weak stems and leaf stalks, are covered with small downward-pointing soft prickles and hairs. Commonly used as a potherb in many areas in Africa and Asia, where the leaves are usually harvested from the wild.
The plant is regarded as a tonic for heart and stomach Used externally, the ash from the plant is applied to cuts, and an infusion is used to treat itch caused by chickenpox. The leaf sap is taken to prevent miscarriage and to treat vertigo. A lotion of the leaf and stem is used for the treatment of penile irritation of any sort, including venereal sores and urethritis. An infusion is also used for injecting into the urethra and vagina to treat gonorrhoea and other inflammations. An ointment made from the leaves is sometimes applied for the same purposes