Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Swamp Rosemallow - Hibiscus moscheutos   L.
Members of Malvaceae:
Members of Hibiscus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Malvales » Family Malvaceae
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DistributionEssentially throughout the state, but of spotty occurrence in the Mountains and western Piedmont.

This widespread Southeastern species ranges north to NH and IL, and south to southern FL and NM.
AbundanceFairly common to common over the Coastal Plain and the eastern 2/3 of the Piedmont; infrequent in the Sandhills proper, western Piedmont and Mountains.
HabitatThis wetland species grows in marshes, margins of lakes and ponds, openings in swamps and bottomlands, and along mud bars. With the great advent of reservoirs in the state in recent decades, it is widespread along marshy shores of these water bodies.
PhenologyBlooms from June to September, and fruits from July to October.
IdentificationThis is a familiar, robust, semi-woody herb with multiple stems arising from the base, and some of them reaching 5-6 feet tall. The alternate leaves are large, mostly ovate with an acuminate tip, with some leaves having small side lobes near the base, though not strongly lobed or hastate as in H. laevis. These leaves are about 5 inches long and 3 inches wide, with small serrations on the margin. The huge flowers are from upper leaf axils, one per axil. In the most common form (moscheutos), each has 5 white rounded petals, and the flower has a deep red base/throat; the spread flower is 5-6 inches across, though often the petals are ascending as opposed to strongly spreading flat. Weakley (2018) includes the former ssp. palustris with this species; that form has large bright pink petals but without a red throat. This latter form is rare in the state. Nonetheless, the flowers are impossible to miss. This species is typically pubescent on the stem or on at least one side of a leaf, and nearly all leaves are simply ovate, without lobes. H. laevis has strongly lobed (halberd-shaped) leaves. The coastal Kosteletzkya pentacarpos has smaller, all-pink flowers (as does the form palustris) but all leaves are lobed, with 3 or 5 pointed lobes.
Taxonomic CommentsWeakley (2018) and some other references have included several forms (varieties or subspecies) from older references into this species. For example, RAB (1968) listed both ssp. palustris and ssp. incanus along with the typical ssp. moscheutos.

Other Common Name(s)Eastern Rosemallow, Crimson-eyed Rosemallow
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieRay's Mill Creek near Aberdeen Lake. 12 July 2017. MoorePhoto_natural
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