Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hibiscus laevis

Hibiscus laevis | Halberd-Leaved Rose Mallow, Smooth Rose Mallow

Hibiscus laevis, formerly known as Hibiscus militaris was named after the halberd, a military weapon used by European soldiers in the 14th-16th centuries. The halberd name lives on with this herbaceous native American perennial Hibiscus, whose leaves taper to a sharp narrow point. Hibiscus laevis is mostly unbranched, the pale pink 15cm flowers with a crimson base are born on smooth stout stems that rise up to 2cm. Flowers last only a single day. The fruit capsules split at maturity and release seeds that are covered with reddish brown hairs. Hibiscus laevis occurs naturally in swamps, marshes, ditches and along water bodies in eastern Canada and central and eastern U.S., south to northern Florida and Texas. It prefers full or partial sun and fertile soil. This wetland species doesn't like to dry out.

Historical Reference: A little beyond this are three beds of the mallow family; the hollyhocks belong here, as do the mallows; the crimson-eye mallow, and the swamp-rose mallow, both from North America, are showy representatives of this family; the Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow, also a North American plant, with its pinkish white flowers with a deeper center, is also showy; and the marsh mallow, a native of Europe and the Orient, is also shown; its root is used in the manufacture of a mucilage and for medicinal purposes.

   Bulletin of the New York Botanical Garden
   Published for the Garden by the New Era Printing Co., 1908