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.

Flower of the Day: Halberd-Leaved Rosemallow

Hibiscus laevis; Malvaceae (mallow family)

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You could hike along the Billy Goat trails all day and never see this flower – but only because the trails never get close enough to the water.  Find one of the rocky outcroppings and head out into the river, though, and you’ll see dozens and dozens – or hundreds – of the plants, which can grow to over six feet tall.

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They could almost be considered shrubs, as the large stems will get very stiff as if lignifying, and these stems will persist through the winter.  But the plant does die back in true perennial fashion.

This rosemallow is a plant that loves to have its feet wet.  You’ll find it growing right along the riverbanks; whether or not it’s actually standing in water depends on the water level.  The flowers will open to a width of five inches when in full sunlight, then close at night.

Here’s a picture of a smaller plant in bud, showing the leaf shape:

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And here’s one more picture, just because:

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