Hibiscus aethiopicus var. ovata, commonly the dwarf hibiscus, is a sprawling perennial growing soft annual stems to 30 cm in height from its woody rootstock.
The stems and leaves are variably covered in bristly, star-shaped hairs. The lower leaf surfaces show more hairiness, here in evidence along the leaf margins. The leaf shape is ovate to elliptic, tapering to a blunt tip; the leaf margins are entire.
The species is widely distributed in the eastern parts of South Africa, particularly KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and north of the Vaal River, also along the south coast to Saldanha. Its habitat is grassland and open scrub. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century.
H. aethiopicus var. ovata is the only one of the three varieties occurring in South Africa that is found in Gauteng where this photo was taken (on the Magaliesberg). There are also var. aethiopicus distributed widely, but more southerly and var. angustifolius, a narrow-leaved one in a smaller eastern distribution (Van Wyk and Malan, 1997; Manning, 2009; www.redlist.sanbi.org).