Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Lavatera 'Black Heart'

Lavatera 'Black Heart' | Island Tree Mallow, Mission Mallow

The California Lavateras are a variable group suited to the cool moist winters, and warm dry summers of California. Most of the species are tolerant of coastal conditions. Lavatera venosa is found on the San Benito islands (west of Cedros island off the coast of Baja), and also in the Vizcaino area of the mainland of Baja California, but it is unknown if it is native or introduced. Venosa is smaller than assurgentiflora, and has darker purple flowers with darker veins.

Lavatera 'Black Heart' is a hybrid between Lavatera venosa and Lavatera assurgentiflora. It has medium green glabrous leaves and dark purple flowers. Plants reach 6’ tall with a 4-6’ span..

Historical Reference: From Natividad to San Bartolome Bay is a distance of about twenty miles, and here a landing was made on the mainland of the Peninsula. In 1839, H. M. S. Sulphur anchored in this harbor, and the plants found at that time are listed in the Botany of the Sulphur ... Lavatera venosa grows upon a rock at the mouth of the harbor, and surrounded by water is preserved from destruction by animals that would like to feed upon it. The distribution of the Lavateras of these Mexican islands is very interesting. Lavatera venosa is extremely abundant on the San Benito Islands, and grows on San Geronimo Islands and at San Bartolome Bay. The leaves of the San Bartolome form are more laciniate than those from San Benito, and this peculiarity would seem to show that it is not a recent introduction from the latter. L. octidentalis persists on the cliffs of the canons of Guadalupe Island, in localities inaccessible to goats, and L. insularis belongs exclusively to the Coronado Islands near San Diego. L. insularis and L. octidentalis are not very distinct from one another. These three species thrive well in cultivation at San Diego and spread rapidly, but it is difficult to be certain whether many of the young plants belong to the Guadalupe or the Coronados forms, perhaps a result of cross-fertilization. Herbivorous animals are fond of Lavatera, and the presence of goats on Natividad would account for its absence there; and on Cedros in addition to these animals, so destructive to botanical interests, there are deer.

   Zoe: A Biological Journal
   By Townshend Stith Brandegee, Katharine Layne Brandegee
   Published by Zoe Publishing Company, 1900