Category: Malvaceae

  • Common Mallow (Malva neglecta)

    Malva neglecta

    A little mallow that grows in lawns and vacant lots everywhere. It usually passes unnoticed as just another weed in the grass, but a close look at its flowers shows us that they are just like Hibiscus or Rose-of-Sharon flowers, but on a smaller scale.

    Malva neglecta
    Cheeses
    Flower with an ant on it

    For a description of the species, see the Malva neglecta reference page.

    Common Mallow
    Photographed May 15 with a Kodak EasyShare Z981.
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

    Hiniscus syriacus
    Photographed July 12.

    A common garden shrub that has become something of a pest, invading hedges especially, from which it is very difficult to extricate. Perhaps the best solution is to let the Roses of Sharon take over the hedge: they make a good, dense hedge themselves, and they have beautiful flowers in a number of different color combinations. In Pittsburgh they happily bloom well into October if the weather cooperates. The typical Mallow-family column of stamens sheds huge amounts of pollen, and these flowers are favorites with bees; below is a bumblebee drunk on pollen.

    Rose of Sharon with bumblebee

    Gray describes the genus and the species:

    HIBISCUS. Calyx involucellate at the base by a row of numerous bractlets, 5-cleft. Column of stamens long, bearing anthers for much of its length. Styles united, stigmas 5, capitate. Fruit a 5-celled loculicidal pod. Seeds several or many in each cell. —Herbs or shrubs, usually with large and showy flowers. (An old Greek and Latin name of unknown meaning.)

    Calyx herbaceous, not inflated about the capsule; perennials.

    Shrub with rhombic-ovate glabrous leaves.

    H. syrìacus L. (SHRUBBY ALTHAEA of gardens.) Tall shrub, smooth; leaves rhombic- or wedge-ovate, pointed, cut-toothed or lobed; corolla usually rose-color. Established in thickets and by roadsides, N. J., Pa., and southw. July-Sept. (Introd. from Asia.)

    Rose of Sharon
    Hibiscus syriacus
  • Common Mallow (Malva neglecta)

    Malva neglecta
    Photographed July 7.

    Also known as Cheeses, because the seedpods look like tiny wheels of cheese. This little mallow grows in yards and vacant lots all over the city. Its flowers are small, but up close are obviously similar to Rose of Sharon, Hollyhock, and other members of the Mallow family. The blooming season is very long, and can last into the winter if the weather is warmer than average. These plants grew in Beechview, where they were blooming in early July.

    Cheeses

    Gray lists this species as M. rotundifolia:

    MALVA [Tourn.] L. MALLOW. Calyx with a 3-leaved involucel at the base, like an outer calyx. Petals obcordate. Styles numerous, stigmatic down the inner side. Fruit depressed, separating at maturity into as many 1-seeded and indehiscent round kidney-shaped blunt carpels as there are styles. Radicle pointing downward. (An old Latin name, from the Greek name, malache, having allusion to the emollient leaves.)

    Flowers fascicled in the axils.

    M. rotundifòlia L. (COMMON M., CHEESES.) Stems procumbent from a deep biennial root; leaves round-heart-shaped, on very long petioles, crenate, obscurely lobed; petals twice the length of the calyx, whitish; carpels pubescent, even. —Waysides and cultivated grounds, common. (Nat. from Eu.)

    Common Mallow
  • Swamp Rose-Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

    Hibiscus-moscheutos-2013-08-22-Cranberry-01

    These gorgeous flowers are the ancestors of many of our garden Hibiscus varieties. There are two main color variants: white with dark red eye (forma peckii  in older botanists) and the more common solid pink. They are not terribly common here, but locally abundant, as they were in this swamp in Cranberry, where they were blooming in late August. The USDA PLANTS database reports this species only in Allegheny and Fayette Counties in our area, but this colony was very near the line between Allegheny and Butler counties, and we are not entirely sure on which side of the border.

    These pictures were taken with a cell phone while the photographer was standing knee-deep in poison ivy beside a busy four-lane highway. They are not ideal photographs, but, considering the circumstances, they are adequate. Such are the sacrifices we make to document the flora of southwestern Pennsylvania for you.

    Hibiscus-moscheutos-2013-08-22-Cranberry-02Gray describes the genus and the species:

    HIBÍSCUS L. Rose Mallow

    Calyx involucellate at the base by a row of numerous bractlets, 5-cleft. Column of stamens long, bearing anthers for much of its length. Styles united, stigmas 5, capitate. Fruit a 5-celled loculicidal pod. Seeds several or many in each cell. — Herbs or shrubs, usually with large and showy flowers. (An old Greek and Latin name of unknown meaning.)

    H. Moscheùtos L. (swamp R.) Tall perennial (1-2.6 m. high); the ■tern puberulent above; leaves ovate, pointed, toothed, the lower and sometimes the upper 3-Iobed, downy-whitened underneath, glabrous or slightly downy above: calyx and bracts densely stellate-puberulent; calyx in anthesis 2-3 cm. long, its lobes ovate or ovate-oblong; petals 6-12 cm. long, rose-color; capsule glabrous, subglobose, abruptly beaked. — River-banks and fresh or brackish marshes, near the coast, e. Mass., southw.; also lake-shores and swamps (especially near salt springs) westw. to Ont. and Mo. July-Sept.

    Gray makes the crimson-eyed form a separate species, but it seems clear that in Cranberry, at least, it is the same species as the pink form:

  • Flower-of-an-Hour (Hibiscus trionum)

    Beautiful little Hibiscus flowers that last only a short time once they open (thus the common name). This plant came to the New World as a garden favorite, but has made itself at home in the most inhospitable places: this plant grew through the gravel at the edge of a gravel parking lot near Cranberry, where it was blooming at the end of September.

    Gray describes the genus and the species:

    HIBÍSCUS L. ROSE MALLOW. Calyx involucellate at the base by a row of numerous bractlets, 5-cleft. Column of stamens long, bearing anthers for much of its length. Styles united, stigmas 5, capitate. Fruit a 5-celled loculicidal pod. Seeds several or many in each cell. — Herbs or shrubs, usually with large and showy flowers. (An old Greek and Latin name of unknown meaning.)

    H. triònum L. (FLOWER-OF-AN-HOUR.) A low rather hairy annual; upper leaves 3-parted, with lanceolate divisions, the middle one much the longest; fruiting calyx inflated, membranaceous, 5-winged, with numerous dark ciliate nerves; corolla sulphur-yellow, with a blackish eye, ephemeral.—Cultivated and waste ground, rather local. (Nat, from Eu.)