Hibiscus laevis All.

Halberd-Leaved Rose Mallow

Hibiscus laevis plant

Family - Malvaceae

Stems - Multiple from the base, herbaceous but often woody at the base, erect, branching, often rooting at the lowest nodes, glabrous, glaucous, with a reddish tint, terete, from thickened roots.

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, hastate. Petiole to +12cm long, glabrous. Blade to +12cm long, +15cm broad at the base, glabrous, serrate. The hastate lobes acuminate to attenuate, crenate to crenate-serrate.

Hibiscus laevis leaves

Inflorescence - Single flowers from the upper leaf axils. Peduncles to +3.5cm long, glabrous, with a joint near the middle.

Flowers - Bracts subtending the calyx 11-13, glabrous or with sparse pubescent margins, to 3cm long, 1.9mm broad. Calyx tube to 2cm long, glabrous. Calyx lobes 5, acute to short acuminate, to 1.4cm long, 1.4cn broad at the base. Corolla of 5 petals joined at the base to the staminal column. Petals typically pink (also white) with a wine-red base, to +8cm long, 4-5cm broad, densely pubescent at the base externally, otherwise glabrous. Stamen column to +/-4cm long, glandular pubescent, white. Filaments wine-red to white, 2-2.5mm long, glabrous. Anthers purple-tan, 2mm long. Style white, pubescent at the apex, exserted from the staminal column, 5-lobed at the apex. Stigmas capitate, 2-2.5mm broad.

Hibiscus laevis flower

Hibiscus laevis stylesStylar column.

Hibiscus laevis calyxCalyx.

Hibiscus laevis fruitImmature fruit.

Hibiscus laevis fruitImmature seeds.

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Wet soils of streams, sloughs, ponds, and ditches.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This attractive species can be found throughout most of Missouri. It appears absent from the northern-most counties of the state and also from many counties in the east-central portion of Missouri. The plant is easy to identify by its halberd leaves and pinkish flowers. The specific epithet laevis means "smooth," referring to the fruits and leaf abaxial surfaces; however, the seeds are hairy. A closely related species, Hibiscus lasiocarpos, has the opposite arrangement, with hairy fruits and smooth seeds. Hibiscus flowers vary from white to deep pink, but usually have a dark wine-red center.
This native species grows well from seed or cuttings and makes an excellent garden specimen. It is a far superior plant to most cultivated species of the genus.

Photographs taken at Eufala National Wildlife Refuge, AL., 6-25-06 (DETenaglia); also at Catawissa Conservation Area, Franklin County, MO, 9-5-2017 (SRTurner).