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Swamp Rose-mallow
Conservation status

Secure (TNC)[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Hibiscus
Species: H. moscheutos
Binomial name
Hibiscus moscheutos
Welw. ex Hiern.

Hibiscus moschatus, orth. var.[2]
Hibiscus palustris

Swamp-rose Mallow or Rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) 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. In Canada it is listed as a species of special concern by the Species at Risk Act.

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.


Cold-hardy Hibiscus cultivars

Many cold-hardy Hibiscus cultivars are hybrids of Hibiscus moscheutos, Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus laevis, Hibiscus militaris and Hibiscus palustris with indeterminate genetic contributions from each parent species[3]. A number of hardy Hibiscus species will cross with each other. According the botanist Harold F. Winters, those that are compatible include Hibiscus coccineus, Hibiscus grandiflorus, Hibiscus laevis, Hibiscus lasiocarpos, Hibiscus moscheutos, and Hibiscus mutabilis. All are native to the eastern United States except Hibiscus mutabilis, which originated in China[4]. One source of information on these hybrids are Plant Patents. A search of Google Patents for Plant Patents referencing Hibiscus moscheutos identifies the ancestry of many popular cultivars of Hibiscus moscheutos. On interest is that the ancestry of un-patented but popular cultivars such as Lord Baltimore are identified in the patent of its progeny Lady Baltimore. While Hibiscus militaris and Hibiscus palustris are both referenced in Plant Patents, Hibiscus militaris is now classified as a sub-species of Hibiscus laevis and Hibiscus palustris is classified as a sub-species of Hibiscus moscheutos. Because some Plant Patents reference the historic species name, they will be used here to facilitate searching.

A careful reading of the plant patents reviles that Hibiscus breeders do not provide extensive details of their breeding strategies which could cover several decades when applying for a plant patent. Generally an outline of the breeding history of the seed and pollen parents and grandparents is provided, together with their breeding objectives, which can be quite useful. Hibiscus breeders do not preclude the possibility of open or self pollination. However, recent research[5] has show that artificial pollination just after the Hibiscus flower has opened using a high pollen load will ensure that most of the resulting seeds are from the selected pollen parent. Early Hibiscus breeders were likely aware of this from their experience with Hibiscus and other flowering plants and used it to their advantage.

Plant Patent Searches by Cold-hardy Hibiscus Species:

Tropical-Hardy Hibiscus Cultivars:

Compared to their cold-hardy North American cousins the tropical Hibiscus rosa-sinensis of East Asia, which are also known as the Chinese hibiscus or China Rose, are the high fashion models of the Hibiscus world but don’t ask these delicate betties to venture north of USDA Zone 10. It has long been the dream of Hibiscus breeders to combine the best qualities of the East Asian and North American Hibiscus but that dream has proven elusive until recently. If one searches the Plant Patents for references to Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and any of the North American Hibiscus species, the following results are obtained.

Unfortunately the first thirteen (13) patents from 1994 through 2001 are false positives in that they compare Hibiscus rosa-sinensis with the North American Hibiscus species but don’t use Hibiscus rosa-sinensis for breeding. The three plant patents issued from 2002 are true hybrids between Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Hibiscus moscheutos, Hibiscus coccineus and Hibiscus laevis and were issued to Fleming's Flower Fields using the trademark TROPICAL-HARDY . In the three plant patents the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis hybrids are reported to be cold-hardy to -30°F (-34°C).The next Google Plant Patent search just finds the hybrids registered from 2002.

A new age of cold-hardy Hibiscus cultivars is dawning for the lowly Swamp-rose Mallow.


  1. ^ "Hibicus moscheutos". NatureServe Explorer. NatureServe. Retrieved 2007-07-03.  
  2. ^ search for Hibiscus moscheutos, the GCI result, as of October 20, 2009
  3. ^ Economic Botany, Volume 24, Number 2; April, 1970; Our hardy Hibiscus species as ornamentals, by Harold F. Winters
  4. ^ Hibiscus: Hardy and Tropical Plants for the Garden by Barbara Perry Lawton, (ISBN 978-0-881-92654-5), page 95
  5. ^ American Journal of Botany. 2000;87:1656-1659, Effects of sequential pollination on the success of "fast" and "slow" pollen donors in Hibiscus moscheutos (Malvaceae)

External links

Additional pictures

Hibiscus moscheutos species USDA
Cultivar of Hibiscus moscheutos


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Hibiscus moscheutos


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids II
Ordo: Malvales
Familia: Malvaceae
Subfamilia: Malvoideae
Genus: Hibiscus
Sectio: Hibiscus sect. Muenchhusia
Species: Hibiscus moscheutos
Subspecies: H. m. subsp. moscheutos


Hibiscus moscheutos L.


  • Species Plantarum 2:693. 1753
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [1]

Vernacular names

Deutsch: Sumpfeibisch
English: Swamp-rose Mallow
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Hibiscus moscheutos on Wikimedia Commons.


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