Malvaceae / Mallow
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Medical Uses: Hibiscus contains a great deal of mucilage so is soothing to the skin. There are accounts of Native Americans using parts of this plant for urinary infections, but, how it was used is unclear. Hawaiians used the root with other plants to "purify the blood" and mothers there chewed the buds or flower bases and gave it to their infants as a laxative. Adults used the leaves as a laxative and children were given seeds to chew for "general weakness of the body".(Native American Ethnobotany Database).
Similar Species: There are many closely related and similar species. Most have pink or cream flowers with yellow stamens and style instead of white as in this species.
Scarlet Rosemallow (H. Coccineus) is one of the showiest plants around having bright scarlet flowers. It is found in
coastal regions of the Southeast. It's stems can reach 3 meters (10') in length and has leaves with narrow lobes
Swamp Rosemallow (H. Grandiflorus) is a shrub with white flowers that can reach 2 meters (7') in height. The leaves are three lobed and irregularly toothed. It is found on the coastal plan from Texas to Georgia and Florida.
Comfortroot (H. Aculeatus) Has cream to yellow flowers with red or purple center the petals turning pink as they wilt. It can reach about 2 meters (6') and has leaves with three to five lobes and coarse teeth. It is found in coastal pinelands and upland bogs from Texas to North Carolina.
Seashore Mallow or officially Virginia Saltmarsh Mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica) has pink flowers similar to the mallows but smaller. It can be over 1meter (3') tall and has leaves that have an elongated heart shape or lance shape and are toothed. It is hairy and is found in marsh areas (salt or fresh) from Texas to as far north as New York.
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Monocots / One Seed Leaf