Swamp Rose, or Rose Mallow, or Hibiscus moscheutos, is one of those plants you would instantly assume to be an exotic species. It's too bold, too colorful, to be a politically-correct native.
But it is -- this plant grows in swampland as far south as Texas and as far north as Ontario. And it comes in terrific, bold shades of pink.
Perhaps the instinct that makes me think this is an exotic plant is because it is related to that iconographic tropical plant, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, or the tropical hibiscus. Another exotic relative, Hibiscus syriacus, or the rose-of-sharon, is native to -- you guessed it -- Syria, China and Asia in-between.
Any of the plants in the Hibiscus genus are easy to recognize by virtue of their flower structure. The long tube in the center of the blossom is called a staminal column -- filaments along the sides hold the anther or pollen. If you bisect the staminal column, you will find in the middle a style that, when intact, protrudes from the top of the staminal column and essentially has small stigmas hanging from it. It's a very compact way to package all the sexual parts of the flower and makes Hibiscus unique from other flowers.
Rose mallow grows very well in wet conditions, but is also pretty tough when its feet are dry. Perhaps it doesn't look like much when it isn't in bloom, but rose mallow creates such a big impact when it does bloom, it would be a shame not to use it. These shots were taken in Battery Park. I really liked the idea of these en masse beneath the littleleaf lindens.
'Hibiscus' is simply derivative of an ancient Greek name for a mallow-like plant. Moscheutos indicates that some part of the plant has a musky scent.
...I'm going to LA this weekend -- I'll try to post some fun west coast plants next week!