Hibiscus waimeae is a small, gray-barked tree up to 10 m tall. The upper surface of the leaves is light green while the lower surface is covered with velvety hairs which makes it appear grayish.
The round or oval leaves are 5-20 cm long and 2 to 13 cm wide. The single flowers last only one day. They are white when they open in the morning and they fade to pink in the afternoon. The flowers occur towards the ends of the branches and have a strong, sweet fragrance (rare in the hibiscus family). The staminal column is pink to crimson. The seeds of Hibiscus waimeae are contained in tough, oval capsules about 2 cm long. The fuzzy brown seeds are about 5 mm long. Hibiscus waimeae is easily grown from fresh seed, but Hawaiian hibiscus hybridize readily and seedlings may be very different from the parent plants. Of the two subspecies, Hibiscus waimeae subspecies hannerae has larger leaves, but smaller flowers.
(Wagner,W.L., D.R. Herbst, and S.H. Sohmer. 1990. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawaii.)
(NTBG. 1992. Unpublished Internal Papers.)