(Swamp-rose Mallow or Rose mallow) is a cold-hardy perennial wetland
plant that can grow in large colonies. The hirsute leaves are of
variable morphology, but commonly found as deltoidal in form and
sometimes having up to three lobes. It is found in wetlands and along
the riverine systems of the southeastern United States from Texas to the
Atlantic states, its territory extending northward to southern Ontario.
There exists in nature numerous forms and petal colors range from
pure white to deep rose, and, except for one genome, all have an eye of
deep maroon. Taxonomic consensus is lacking for the nomenclature of the
multiple sub-species. The complete flowers are born apically, whereas
the related Hibiscus laevis carries bud and bloom along the stem.
Propagation can be accomplished by seed sown 0.6 cm (1/4-inch) below
media and kept constantly moist, or by crown divisions during winter
dormancy, and some success can be achieved by hard-wood stem cuttings.
Numerous hybrids of the native North American Hibiscus species have been
released by the commercial nursery trade. In cultivation the species or
the hybrids can be an attractive addition to a bog garden or other water
feature, not only adding visual appeal but also enhancing wildlife value
for nectar-feeders and birds.
Many cold-hardy Hibiscus cultivars are hybrids of H. moscheutos,
Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus laevis, Hibiscus militaris and Hibiscus
palustris with indeterminate genetic contributions from each parent
species. A number of hardy Hibiscus species will cross with each other.
According the botanist Harold F. Winters, those that are compatible
include H. coccineus, Hibiscus grandiflorus, H. laevis, Hibiscus
lasiocarpos, H. moscheutos, and Hibiscus mutabilis. All are native to
the eastern United States except Hibiscus mutabilis, which originated in
China. One source of information on these hybrids are Plant Patents. A
search of Google Patents for Plant Patents referencing H. moscheutos
identifies the ancestry of many popular cultivars of H. moscheutos.
While H. militaris and H. palustris are both referenced in plant
patents, H. militaris is now classified as a sub-species of H. laevis
and H. palustris is classified as a sub-species of H. moscheutos.
Because some plant patents reference the historic species name, they
will be used here to facilitate searching.