Also Known As
Giant Hibiscus 
Giant Rose Mallow 
Large-flowered Hibiscus 
Pink Swamp Hibiscus 
Swamp Hibiscus 
Swamp Pink Hibiscus 
Velvet Hardy Mallow 
Velvet Mallow 

Order:   Malvales
Family:   Malvaceae
Genus:    Hibiscus
Species: grandiflorus

Florida n c s

Animal Interaction
Other Uses
Fragrant Cordage
Now, if I was to rank the finest native toilet paper in the state of Florida, this species would win, hands down. One of its common names is Velvet Mallow, need I say more? The very large pink flowers often reach ten inches across, and are slightly fragrant, which is quite unusual for a hibiscus. In fact, this is North America's largest-flowering hibiscus, and the only one that I know of that is fragrant. They bloom right through the night, so look for them under full moons. Hummingbirds love to nectar at the blossoms. If you would like to attempt to grow this wetland plant in your garden, go for it, as it does well in enriched garden soil if watered moderately. What a beauty, I swear. 

CAUTION: It should not be harvested from the wild in south Florida, as IRC ranks it as "rare" there.  
TOILET PAPER: The velvety leaves make an outstanding in-the-field toilet paper. I agree with Plant Delights Nursery who write, "
Who needs toilet paper by the outhouse, when you've got a couple of velvet mallows?"
CORDAGE: I have been told by two primitive skills enthusiasts that this species yields bark which makes good quality rope.
HUMMINGBIRD ATTRACTANT: Hummingbirds are very fond of nectaring at the flowers.
NOTE: The encyclopedic book, Florida Ethnobotany, does not mention this particular species as being used medicinally. 

NATIVE TO: Georgia and Florida to Mississippi. [1] Here in Florida, it grows wild in many counties, scattered across the entire state.
HABITAT: "Marshes, ditches, other wet, open areas." [1] "Fresh and brackish marshes, and the edges of swamps, ponds, streams and ditches." [2] Wetlands. Wet meadows. [6] The Florida Native Plant Society writes, "Depressions in pine flatwoods, brackish and freshwater marshes, edges of lakes and ponds, along rivers, swamps, canals, ditches. Commonly in water but may occur in dry floodplains and dry marshes."
DESCRIPTION: This herbaceous, short-lived [8], deciduous perennial that dies to the ground each winter. [2]
- HEIGHT: 6 to 10 feet tall, or more. Reported to 15' tall. [5]
- STEM: Often becoming semi-woody at the base. [2]
- LEAVES: Alternate, large, 6"+, [up to 10" x 10"] [2], grayish-green, palmate, heart-shaped, deltoid [9], velvety on top and bottom, three-lobed, toothed.
- FLOWERS: Appear from the leaf axis, occur singly, nod slightly. 10" wide. Five petals [4-6" long each [1], very large, showy, pink/pinkish-violet "with a red-purple [1], crimson [2], center."  [1] They surround many stamens. Flowerbuds are velvety. wildflower.org reports them as occurring red as well. Blooming March through August. Floridata writes, the "flowers open in the late afternoon and are finished by noon the following day, but a succession of blooms (up to a dozen or more per plant each day) keeps up the show from mid summer through autumn. White-flowered specimens have been reported." The very large pink flowerbuds are showy as well.
- SEEDPODS: Velvety.
- HARDINESS: USDA zones 7-10. [2] Plant Delight Nursery rates it at zones 6A – 9B. [4]  The Florida Native Plant Society rates it at zones 8A - 11.
- LIGHT: Full sun to partial shade. In the wild, I see it most often doing well in full sun.
- SOIL: "Sand, loam, organic muck," [8]
- WATER: Wet to constantly damp in the wild. Does well with moderate watering in enriched garden soil. It is not tolerant of drought. Native plant expert and author, Dr. Craig Huegel, writes that it tolerates ten inches of water in the wet season. [9]
- SALT TOLERNCE: It grows in brackish tidal marshes. [5] The Florida Native Plant Society's profile of this species lists it as not tolerant of salt water. Well, it does take slightly brackish waters, I have seen it doing so in the wild.
- PROPAGATION: Gather ripe seeds from mature seedpods and pot them up. Some folks sand the seed coat down to scarify the seed before planting. Seed-to-bloom may take two years. Easy from root division. [2]
RELATED SPECIES: There are "hybrids with scarlet hibiscus, H. coccinea." [2] 

More Details

Flowering Calendar

Flower Color
Bearing Age
2 years

Aquatic Swamps and Marshes

Plant Form
Herbaceous Deciduous Perennial Herb
10 feet
5 feet
Rate of Growth

Hardiness Zone
7a to 11b
Ease of growth
Part Sun Full Sun
Flood Tolerant
5 feet

Sources for acquiring

It is cultivated by native plant enthusiasts.
Some native plant nurseries sell potted plants.
SEEDS AVAILABLE FROM: Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative 


[AFP] Atlas of Florida Plants 
[1] wildflower.org - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 
[2] floridata.com 
[3] IFAS 
[4] Plant Delights Nursery 
[5] Native Nurseries – nativenurseries.com 
[6] Florida Wildflowers - floridawildflowers.com 
[7] Regional Conservation - regionalconservation.org  
[8] Florida Native Plant Society - fnps.org 
[9] Hawthorne Hill Wildflowers - hawthornhillwildflowers.blogspot.com 
Last Updated: October 28, 2017

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