Matthew’s Mallow in SC

Okay, this one sort of breaks your guideline about potted plants, BUT! I collected the seeds for this plant last year hiking in the mountains. I also collected hornbeam seeds at the same time, and numerous other plants, most of which I identified. This plant grew out of the seeds I stratified in the container marked “hornbeam.” Clearly it is not a hornbeam, not least because in one season it’s grown about 4 feet tall.
It would have been growing along one of any number of hiking trails on national forest property in western NC or upstate SC and at the time I collected it I must have thought I knew what it was. This plant is now one growing season old and has grown quite large. (I also include a picture of a second plant that sprouted from the same set of seeds, and which I left in a tiny little sprouter for most of the summer, so it’s still very small.) The leaves run about 4 inches long and no more than 2 inches wide at the widest part. The stems as you can see are all green. As this plant is only a season old it didn’t flower this year, which would have helped me with id. I really wish I could figure out what it is, since I don’t generally keep anything non-native that isn’t producing tomatoes, and this thing has grown so fast I’m suspicious about its intentions.
If you’re willing to take a look and see if you can figure out what this thing is I’ve grown I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!


Hi Matthew,

your plant is a native Hibiscus, Hibiscus moscheutos, the ‘rose mallow’.  They normally grow along streams or at the edges of swamps, and have showy large flowers.  They like moisture, so plant them in a wet place.  They also like full sun, so your seeds were probably not from a shady forest – unless there was an open marsh in it somewhere.

Sincerely,    Steve Hill, SCNPS


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