Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hibiscus aculeatus

Hibiscus aculeatus | Comfortroot, Pineland Hibiscus, Pinelands Mallow, Rough Rosemallow, Sharp Rosemallow

This U.S. native perennial Hibiscus is one of the lesser known of our native mallows. It is covered with short stiff, white hairs and grows to about 2m high. The leaves are palmately lobed in 3-5 irregularly toothed segments. Bears large flowers, 10cm or more across from June to September. Flowers change in color from cream to yellow, and finally fade to pink. The 5 petals are marked with a purple or crimson spot at the base. Seed capsules are less than 3cm long and resemble small Okra pods.

The roots contain mucilage and have been used medicinally as a soothing agent, hence the common name Comfortroot. Its latin name aculeatus means 'prickly' in reference to the sandpaper-like feel of the stems and leaves. Found naturally in sandy soil; bogs, moist pinelands, savannas, ditches and coastal plains from Florida to Louisiana, north to North Carolina.