Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hibiscus coccineus

Hibiscus coccineus: The more common red-colored form
Hibiscus coccineus | Scarlet Hibiscus, Scarlet Rosemallow, Marsh Hibiscus, Red Hibiscus

Hibiscus coccineus occurs naturally in swamps, marshes, and ditches near rivers and streams, from Georgia and Alabama to central Florida. Hibiscus coccineus is one of the largest and most striking of the North American Hibiscus. It sometimes causes a stir since leaves resemble those of marijuana ―but the resemblance quickly ends when the plant bursts forth with its large red flowers in summer!

H. coccinues 'Alba', also known as 'Texas White Star' or 'Lone Star'. 
The Scarlet Hibiscus is a slender shrubby herbaceous perennial that dies back in winter and re-sprouts in spring. Established plants can have one to several stems up to 2m tall. The five petaled flowers are brilliant crimson red 2-3cm across. Each flower lasts only a day but new ones continue to open into fall.

Hibiscus section Muenchhusia: Hibiscus coccineus is another North American member of section Muenchhusia, which is composed of hardy, herbaceous, perennial Hibiscus species. Within section Muenchhusia, there are numerous naturally occuring forms as well as flower colors, ranging from pure white to deep red. Additionally, many cultivars have been released through the years into the nursery trade ―many of these cold-hardy Hibiscus cultivars are hybrids of Hibiscus moscheutos, Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus grandiflorus, Hibiscus laevis, Hibiscus palustris and perhaps even Hibiscus dasycalyx. In cultivation these species, cultivars and hybrids make an attractive addition to the garden, not only adding visual appeal but also enhancing wildlife value for nectar-feeders and birds. What's more, it now looks like a new era of hybridizing has begun for the cold-hardy Swamp Mallow family. For more infomation, see the following article: "A Blue Flowering Winter-hardy Hibiscus".

Historical Reference: Hibiscus Coccineus. There are many beautiful flowers among our native plants which the "Native Flowers & Ferns of the United States" and Professor Goodale's "Wild Flowers of America" are doing much to make known. Hibiscus coccineus, is just as showy as the Chinese Hibiscus, with the advantage of being hardy at least as far north as Philadelphia. A southern correspondent tells us he is about to put it on the market, and we are sure he will do good work.

   The Gardener's monthly and horticulturist
   Editor: Thomas Meehan
   Published by Charles H. Marot, 1881