Posts Tagged ‘Turk’s cap mallow’

Mellow Mallows

Turk's Cap Mallow's scarlet blooms attract hummingbirds and yellow sulfur butterflies.

As I’ve said before, I am very appreciative of the plants that came with my house.

Some of them are wild plants that migrated in from the fields and woods.

Others like the Turk’s Cap Mallow (which is native to only two counties in Mississippi) were probably planted.

In midsummer during my first year of residence, I noticed that the hummingbirds and sulfur butterflies flocked to a cluster of mounding plants with scarlet pinwheel shaped flowers.

The flower color seemed incredibly intense against the healthy lobed deep green leaves.

I knew immediately that this was some sort of hibiscus relative.   A little research led me to conclude that my mystery plant was Turk’s Cap Mallow (Malvaviscus arboreus).

My brand new feist dog puppy at the time weighed only a couple of pounds but was mean as a snake.  As we brainstormed for a flower name for the puppy we settled on Malva or “Malva Viscious” (no relation to Sid).

So that year I was out in the garden hollering for “Malva”  I also spent hours trying to capture the perfect hummer shot on film.  The Turk’s Cap bloomed from mid summer into the autumn.  I spent quality time with the mallow and used her name quite often.  I was smitten.

Some might think that the startling flower color could be difficult to use in a landscape design.

I have, however, noticed that it perfectly compliments creamy yellow butterflies as well as emerald green ruby throated hummingbirds.

As I wrote this post, I learned that the flowers are edible and can be used as a garnish or steeped to make a tea.

The red pulpy fruit looks like a tiny heirloom tomato and is edible as well.

I plan to make a pot of tea this week.  I’ll garnish a salad soon with a few flowers.   And later in the season I will sample the fruit.

I will report back regarding my culinary adventures!


Signs of Autumn

This has been a brutal summer.  Last week it was over 100 degrees every day.

I quit watching the weather after I saw a forecast that predicted 111 degrees with heat index.  If it’s going to be that hot I’m better off not knowing!

This time of year, though, I become alert for signs of autumn.

They are subtle, believe me.  Perhaps they aren’t really signs but nuances…

A gentle breeze can bring a smile of anticipation to my face.

I dig that the beautyberries have a purple patina and that my native azalea flower buds are swollen and scaly.

And I’m delighted that a few stalwart fall flowers like the Turk’s cap mallow are beginning their show.

The Turkscap's hot colored blooms are a sign of autumn for me.

Turks cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) is one of those special plants that came with my house – a freebie that I have grown to love.

That first year, when it began to bloom I said “Hello, who are you?’ and reached for my gardening books.

I learned that Turks cap is a hibiscus cousin native to Texas.  It can grow in sun or shade and is remarkably resistant to drought and pests.

Every year it produces a bounty of scarlet pinwheel shaped flowers.  The blooms resemble those of hibiscus in that they boldly present their exerted stamens for all to see.   But, unlike other hibiscus, these flowers never really open.  So the plant is sometimes called sleepy hibiscus.

The flowers appear about the time that school starts and carry on through the hummingbird migration.  Hummers along with sulfur butterflies flock to Turkscap.  Their long tongues allow them to sip nectar from the closed blossoms.

Other birds eat the pulpy fruit that comes later.  It is red and oddly shaped like a turban.

Probably I am grasping at straws to see the promise of autumn in those scarlet flowers.  But there’s also that breeze and the purple tinted berries and those fat azalea buds.  Due to the accumulated evidence,  I choose to believe in the promise of autumn.


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