Marvelous marsh-mallow

Just a glance at the pale pink flowers of Virginia saltmarsh mallow (Kosteletzyka pentacorpos) tell us that this plant is a member of the hibiscus (or mallow) family, Malvaceae.  The united yellow stamens form a distinctive tubular column.

Bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and other pollinators visit the 5-petaled flowers …

Also known as coastal mallow, seashore mallow, sweat weed, Virginia fen-rose, and just salt marsh mallow, this plant blooms in the spring and fall throughout Florida.  Its range includes coastal areas from Texas to New York.

At the Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail where these photos were taken on June 15, 2020, lots of Virginia saltmarsh mallows were growing along the sunny edges of the wide trails.  This fast-growing plant also occurs at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA), where it is far less abundant.   This herbaceous wildflower grows to be from 3 – 5′ tall and usually is taller than wide.

The petals and sepals (outer part of the flowers) are united at the base.

The fruits are a flat brown capsule with five segments, the reason for the species name, pentacarpos, which means five (penta) carpels (carpos).  The genus name, Kosteletzyka honors Vincenz Franz Kosteletzky (1801-1887) of Prague, who wrote about medical botany.

Its alternate leaves are grey-green, slightly hairy, and toothed.  The upper leaves are triangular-ovate, and the lower leaves are larger and lobed.

Each flower of this native hibiscus lasts for only one day, so enjoy them while you can.

%d bloggers like this: