Texas Star Hibiscus

Photo by Carolynn Waites

This pretty flower belongs to a Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus  coccineus). It also goes by Scarlet Rosemallow and Swamp Hibiscus. It does not look like a typical hibiscus flower and the flower is one of the largest blooms in Texas. The five-petaled crimson flower grows anywhere from 3-6 inches wide. There is also a much rarer white-flowered version of this hibiscus plant.

The curious thing about this plant is its leaves. Palmate, star-shaped, and serrated, the leaves are often mistaken for those of a marijuana plant. Northwest Harris County resident Blair Davis learned this the hard way when the Harris County Organized Crime Unit raided his home. A neighbor had reported that he was growing marijuana in his front yard. But it was actually Texas Star hibiscus that he grows for his landscaping business. Here is the Fox News story.

This beautiful perennial is a low maintenance plant when planted in wet or swampy soil. It likes full sun and will grow in dry soil as long as it is watered frequently. I do not have any swampy areas in my yard and I am not a practitioner of frequent watering, so I will have to rely on enjoying this lovely shrub elsewhere. I found this fine specimen at the Houston Zoo in a butterfly garden. Texas Star attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Finally, I just want to add that the name Scarlet Rosemallow needs to be the name of a character in a book, don’t you think?

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