Mallow - Rose

Scientific Names: Hibiscus palustris
Abundance: very rare
What: flowers, leaves, seeds, seed pods, roots
How: flowers raw, young leaves raw or cooked, seeds roasted. Tender seed pods are cooked. Roots are diced then roasted.
Where: sunny areas, often used in landscaping
When: spring, summer, fall
Nutritional Value: Flowers high in antioxidants; seeds are high in protein & starch; leaves high in minerals; roots contain starch.

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are arranged alternately along the stems.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are typically palmately lobed, with a length of approximately 3 to 5 inches and a width of 2 to 4 inches.

Leaf Venation: The venation is palmate, with several prominent veins spreading outward from the base of the leaf.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margin is toothed, featuring serrations along the edge.

Leaf Color: The upper side of the leaves is medium to dark green, while the underside may have a lighter hue.

Flower Structure: The 5-petaled flowers are typically solitary, with a diameter of about 2 to 4 inches. They are located at the leaf axils. Calyx has long, spidery fingers running up alongside the flower buds.

Flower Color: The flowers can range in color from white to pale pink or light lavender with a darker red interior.

Fruit: The fruit is a 1" capsule, containing seeds.

Seed: Seeds are small, dark, and numerous within the capsule. They start out white/off-white and then turn brown as the mature.

Stem: The stems are erect, often reddish in color, and may have fine hairs.

Hairs: Fine hairs may be present on the stems and leaves.

Height: Hibiscus palustris can reach a height of 3 to 6 feet, with the flowers positioned at the leaf axils along the stems.

Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus palustris) plants grow up to five feet tall.


Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus palustris) flower and bud.

Closeup of flower buds (green fruit).

Closeup of Rose Mallow flower (petals may be white to pink in color).


Closeup of Rose Mallow seeds inside pod (brown fruit).

Halberd-Leaved Rose Mallow (Hibiscus militaris) plant and flower buds.

Close-up of Halberd-Leaved Rose Mallow (Hibiscus militaris) leaf.

Close-up of young Halberd-Leaved Rose Mallow (Hibiscus militaris) flower bud.

Rose mallows are usually found in moist, sunny areas but on occasion they can be found in shady, moist areas, too.

The seeds can be roasted then ground in a coffee grinder for use as a substitute for real coffee. It tastes pretty good, though does not have any caffeine.

Young tender leaves can be cooked like spinach but I find them a bit too rough/stiff to use raw. The flowers are good raw or added to tea. The tender, young flower buds and seed pods can be used like okra, either friend, pickled, or added to Cajun and African foods. The flowers work well in salads.

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