This week on Discover Nature, find a spot to escape the summer heat in a pond or pool of a cool stream, and you may find one of the largest wildflowers in Missouri.
Hairy rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos) produces flowers that resemble hibiscus, with five white- or rose-colored, papery petals, and a central wine-purple spot. The tall, perennial herb sometimes develops woody stalks and can grow to eight-feet in height.
Look for these ornate blooms from July to October in borders of lakes and ponds, sloughs, swamps, ditches, and wet lowlands. The plant is also a good native choice for rain gardens and wet borders, where its roots work to purify water and prevent flooding.
Ducks and quail eat the plant’s seeds, bees visit the flowers, and caterpillars of several butterflies and skippers feed on the leaves.
Many of its relatives in the mallow family are economically important to people, too, including okra, and cotton.
Learn more about hairy rose mallow and other Missouri wildflowers in bloom this week, with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online Field Guide.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.