Friday, May 01, 2009

Malvaviscus arboreus var. mexicanus

Malvaviscus arboreus var. mexicanus | Cardinals Hat, Mazapan, Nodding Hibiscus, Sleeping Hibiscus, Turk's Cap, Giant Mexican Turk's-Cap

Malvaviscus arboreus is native from Mexico to Columbia, but it has naturalized in areas of the southern US, and other parts of the world. It's commonly called the sleeping or nodding hibiscus because the flowers do not open fully —they resemble wilted, downward hanging hibiscus flowers. Open or not, its still a worthy subject for the garden.

Malvaviscus arboreus has previously been known as: M. penduliflorus, M. conzatti, M. mexicanus, M. grandiflorus and M. mollis. This is a variable species that includes a few subspecies and varieties. It grows to 3m tall and almost as wide, bearing red, fleshy fruits along with the pendulous flowers. Varieties are available with red, pink, white or light pink flowers. Malvaviscus arboreus comes from warm, humid climates but also thrives in subtropical frost-free areas. They need well-drained soil and supplemental summer watering in dry climates.

Historical Reference: A tall shrub with alternate, three-lobed, acuminate leaves, serrate, roughish: petioles recurved. Peduncles axillary, solitary, one-flowered. External calyx of several leaflets linear, erect; internal of one leaflet with a five-cleft border. Corolla of five petals, obovate, convolute, never fully expanding. Column of stamens and styles twisted, twice the length of the corolla; anthers pendulous, scattered along the column; stigmas recurved. Native of Jamaica. With us an inhabitant of the stove, where its handsome foliage and bright scarlet flowers produced most part of the year, render it very ornamental. Cultivated in 1714, by the Duchess of Beaufort. Communicated by Mr. Blake from the collection of James Vere, Esq.

   Tropical shrubs‎
   John Sims
   Published by s.n., 1822