Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seashore Mallow

(Kosteletzkya virginica Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA SCS. 1991. Southern wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. South National Technical Center, Fort Worth, TX.)

Seashore mallow (Kosteletskya virginica) is a salt tolerant, bog loving herb that does well in watery gardens. It is also a perennial, so its beauty can be enjoyed over and over again. It will grow to about five feet tall and four feet wide in spread. The flowers are pink and look very similar to the hibiscus. This is a member of the Mallow family, Malvaceae, that has over 1000 species of plants. You can find this in all coastal areas of the United States and it is one of the easiest found wild flowers in the entire area of North America.

Other Names for Kosteletzkya virginica
Besides being called seashore mallow it also is called marsh mallow, pink mallow, seaside mallow, saltmarsh mallow, Virginia saltmarsh mallow, Virginia fenrose, and salt marshmallow. Any of these are correct in identifying Kosteletskya virginica. Having many common names is all the more reason to call flowers and other plantlife by their scientific name when ordering or requesting flowers and plants from a nursery. This insures the correct plant. It was first described in a botanical setting by Linnaeus in 1753. It was first classified as a Hibiscus (due to its look) but in 1835 was transferred to Kosteletzkya from Carl Presl.

How to Plant and Grow Seashore Mallow
Seashore mallow has high water needs and prefers sun to the shady areas in the landscape. This has an open form, with a shrubby type of growth. There are pink flowers throughout its growing season (June through October) and can be found in standing water places like swamps and ditches. There will be brown capsule fruits to go with the pale pink flowers and yellow stamens.

To propagate this lovely bog garden plant you can germinate seeds or do tip cuttings before it flowers. For collecting seeds, wait for fruit to turn brown and collect the seeds. They should be dark brown and stored in the refrigerator. The flowers and growing patterns of this pretty pink flower will attract hummingbirds and is a source of nectar for birds and bees alike. It is not deer resistant.

Scientific Classification for Seashore Mallow
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Dilleniidae
Order Malvales
Family Malvaceae – Mallow family
Genus Kosteletzkya C. Presl – kosteletzkya
Species Kosteletzkya virginica (L.) C. Presl ex A. Gray – Virginia saltmarsh mallow

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