Feb. 20, 2020

wax mallow, Malvaviscus arboreus

Looks just like an unopened red hibiscus, doesn't it. Hibiscus opens in the morning, and lasts a day. But you could sit there for two days waiting for wax mallow to open, and then it would wither and fall. Wax mallow has used its unfurled stage to create a different pollination syndrome for itself. Apparently those long exserted stamens and pistils get serviced while pollinators are working to get the nectar at the bottom of the tube. The resulting tubular effect brings long-tongued pollinators like hummingbirds. Wax myrtle has also developed another very successful reproduction strategy. The twigs can be easily rooted by humans who then grow them in gardens, like this one. The species has spread far and wide in warm climate gardens and indoor plantings like this one at the University of Michigan conservatory. Wax mallow is probably native in Texas, and can be seen wild in AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, and TX. 6/17/14. Mallow family, Malvaceae.