Rosea

There are a lot of pink wildflowers in the Maryland Piedmont. As with blue and purple, “pink” can vary quite a bit, from almost white to practically red.

Claytonia virginica (spring beauty; Portulacaeae)

One of our earliest ephemerals, blooming as early as late February after a warm winter, and lasting into May. In woodland soils almost everywhere. Usually white with a pink tint.

Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells; Boraginaceae)

Virginia bluebell buds start violet and turn pink before opening blue, except when the flowers are pure white or pure pink. I visit this stand every year just to make sure that the flowers really are all pink from start of bloom through senescence. They are.

Cercis canadensis (redbud; Fabaceae)

Around here, this understory tree usually blooms in April, when other trees are just starting to blush green. It’s a beautiful effect, though maybe not as stunning as…

 

Rhododendron periclymenoides (pinxter azalea; Ericaceae)

I don’t know that we have a more stunning native shrub than this. I’ve seen it in rocky, wet areas in Rachel Carson Conservation Park and Sugarloaf Mountain; it blooms in mid spring.

Silene caroliniana ssp. pensylvanica (wild pink; Caryophyllaceae)

Look for the flowers in early April to late May. These low-growing plants are often found in dry, rocky soils in open woodlands. There are several stands near Carderock.

 

Valeriana pauciflora (long-tube valerian, large-flower valerian; Valerianceae)

This delicate plant (S1/endangered) has an explosive inflorescence that usually opens in May. A great photo has always eluded me, despite hours and hours and hours of trying, because the plants bloom in the deep shade of dense woods. Shade is the bane of photographers. Maybe this year.

Hibiscus laevis (halberd-leaved rosemallow; Malvaceae)

Unlike the previous species, this one likes bright, sunny riverbanks. I love how it just glows in the light! Sometimes considered a forb and sometimes as a shrub, it’s a very tall plant with stems that get somewhat woody as the season progresses; but, like a forb, it dies back to the crown in autumn. Watch for it in early to mid summer. S3 in Maryland.

Hylodesmum nudiflorum (naked-flower tick trefoil; Fabaceae)

The tick trefoils can be tricky to identify, but this one stands out because the flowers are borne on leafless stems. The genus Desmodium was recently split, with some species placed in a new genus, Hylodesmum. According to the excellent gobotany site, species in the former as sun-loving, and species in the latter are shade-loving.

Desmodium paniculatum (panicled tick-trefoil; Fabaceae)

This one blooms in mid to late summer. It grows in moist to dry soils in sun to part shade, and does well in disturbed areas.

Lespedeza virginica (Fabaceae) Not seen as often as the alien invasive L. sericea, this species grows in dry areas, blooming in mid to late summer.

Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed; Apocynaceae)

If you want to spend hours being entertained by bees and butterflies, park yourself in front of a stand of milkweeds. I’ve seen them blooming in wet soils in sunny areas from late June to late August.

Persicaria amphibia (water smartweed; Polygonaceae)

Or, as I prefer to call it, DPP (damn pink persicaria). I’m fairly certain I’ve ID’d it correctly. Sometimes I’m not particularly attracted to a species until I sit and study it awhile and try to get good close-up pictures. So it was with this one. Click on the pic to see it larger. It’s pretty up close!

Sabatia angularis (rosepink; Gentianaceae)

I’ve only seen this plant once, in the shade of a small shrub even though it’s a sun-loving species. Watch for it in dry soils in open places. What a beautiful color.

Rosemallows

Of the four species of Hibiscus (Malvaceae) that grow in the Maryland Piedmont, two are alien (rose of Sharon and flower of an hour), and two are native. Starting in mid-July every year, I spend hours scouring the banks of the Potomac looking for these big, showy flowers.

Not that they’re hard to find. Despite being listed S3 (“At moderate risk of extinction or extirpation due to a fairly restricted range, relatively few populations…”), I see Hibiscus laevis (halberd-leaved rosemallow) by the hundreds.

The tricky thing is getting a good angle to shoot them. Halberd-leaved rosemallow is a wetland obligate, and with the flowers usually facing the river, the water level has to be low for me to get close enough to take decent pictures.

 

Hibiscus moscheutos (swamp rosemallow, crimson-eye rosemallow) is also a wetland obligate. It should be more common than H. laevis, but before this summer I had only seen them in the C&O Canal. This year I found several along the river banks.

The flowers of both species are about the same size. H laevis generally sports pink flowers, but they can be very pale, almost white, while H. moscheutos flowers are generally pure white. Both have a crimson throat. Color isn’t a reliable way to distinguish between them, though. Instead look at the leaves.

 

 

<—Hibiscus laevis leaf

 

 

 

 

Hibiscus moscheutos leaf—>

 

Even though I’m particularly attracted to small, subtle, hidden things, there’s something compelling about the rosemallows.

Flower of the Day: Swamp Rosemallow

Hibiscus moscheutos; Malvaceae (mallow family)

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This cousin of halberd-leaf rose mallow (fotd 8/7) likes it really, really wet, as you can see.

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Last week I found a single clump; couldn’t get up close for photos without going for a wade.

 

 

 

A few days later, though, I found one right on the canal edge, facing my direction, even, and in full sunlight, too!  So out with the tripod and macro lens to have some fun getting up close and personal.

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This flower measures four or five inches across.  Really quite showy, except early in the morning when she hasn’t yet awakened:

20140825-DSC_0024Here’s enough detail for a basic anatomy lesson.  On the left side are the five tall pistils, typical of flowers in the mallow family.  You can clearly see the stigmas perched atop the styles. Click on the picture to see the details – it’s incredible what a good lens can capture.20140825-DSC_0172Surrounding the pistils are dozens of stamens, golden anthers topping the white filaments, which form a tube at least an inch long.

Nearby I found a halberd-leaved rosemallow just opening, so I got up close and personal with it, too:

20140826-DSC_0008  You can see the same basic floral structures in this species, though the anthers are pink rather than yellow.

These two species are found throughout the eastern and southern US.  They are the only native Hibiscus found along the Potomac, though you’ll also find the common garden plant Rose of Sharon (H. syriacus) in the same area.