Thursday, September 2, 2010

Marvelous mallow

I've got such a backlog of photos to share, it's shameful. One flower that I finally got photos of this year was a lovely, large, showy hibiscus-looking flower that grows out in the middle of one of the fields on our road. It grows down in a low spot that tends to have its feet wet, so to speak, when we go through spells of rainy weather. It stands out not only because it's so gorgeous, but because it's pretty much the only flower of its kind in that immediate area.

I am still trying to determine if this is Common Rose-Mallow or Halberd-leaf Rose-Mallow. One way to differentiate between the two is to look at the leaf shape, but both types could have 3-lobed leaves. I didn't get great shots of the leaves, but they are definitely 3-lobed. I need to go back and see if the leaves are hairy or not - if they are hairless, then the ID is most likely the Halberd-leaf species (at least according to my handy-dandy National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Wildflowers of North America).

A not-so-great shot of the mallow leaves and blossoms

The seed pod can also aid in identification, but both rose-mallows have "many-seeded capsules," so that doesn't really narrow it down.

These dried out seed pods are from last year's flowers, mixed right in with the new flowers from this year. I guess I could snag a few and try planting them somewhere else closer to home.

They both prefer similar habitat (wet, marshy areas), so again, no help there. For now I will be content to simply admire how beautiful they are, but my learning antennae will be up to find the key to lead me to a positive ID.

Nice pollen. I have to wonder what evolutionary purpose these large petals, which can catch pollen, might serve? Is it to be a "landing pad" of sorts for the insects that are meant to pollinate it?

Does the stamen of this flower look like an elephant's trunk to anyone else?

P.S. A big thanks goes out to Dave, who mowed a path with the tractor so that I could get to these flowers. They are amidst very tall grass and dicey terrain, wherein I worried that I might encounter snakes or other surprise animals hiding out. I wasn't too crazy about the possibility of bushwhacking my way to said flowers, so my man helped me out. He's pretty nice like that. ;)


KaHolly said...

I just love rose mallow!! Am hoping to gather some seeds this year! ~karen

Steve Willson said...

Gee, Heather, I'm always hoping I WILL encounter snakes or other surprise animals when I wade into a thicket.
That's a great looking flower. I've seen a lot of them from the road as I've traveled around this summer.

Heather said...

Karen - They are lovely specimens, aren't they? Let me know if your seed gathering is successful.

Steve - Under the right circumstances, I would love to come across snakes and other animals when wading into high grasses, but in this particular instance it was a matter of time - like, "I only have about 40 minutes after dinner to get down to this flower and photograph it before I lose the light" time. So, not enough time to be careful that I don't startle/make mad creatures that might lash out at me. I like those big showy flowers that you can see easily from the road - makes the drive to and from work most pleasant.

flower delivery philippines said...

Oh! Those flowers caught my attention. It seems you have a great flower gardens. How I wish I could have a cool garden like yours. Keep it up!


kramer said...

Hi Heather Found a lot of swamp rose mallow in river bottoms along the Wabash river. was in vegetation that was chest high getting to the flowers. just was waiting for a snake to get me. got some great pictures and gathered seed. will send you some if you desire. sure do like your blog. your enthusiasm is wonderful Kramer Bill