Friday, August 5, 2016

Flower Friday: Comfortroot is a soothing presence in wet pinelands.

Comfortroot (Hibiscus aculeatus)

Click on terms for botanical definitions.

Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Comfortroot, also known as pineland hibiscus, is a large perennial wildflower. Its showy blooms are 3-4” wide, with five cream-colored petals that have scalloped edges and appear pleated. The bloom’s center is a deep purplish-red. The plant has a semi-woody base from which multiple stems emerge. Leaves are palmate and scabrous with toothed margins. They are alternately arranged. Seeds are borne in large scabrous capsules. Stems are also scabrous.

Comfortroot occurs naturally in wet to mesic pinelands, and along the edges of savannas, bogs and roadside ditches. It typically blooms late spring through fall and attracts pollinators, specifically bees.

The common name comfortroot may allude to the belief that the plant’s mucilaginous roots has soothing properties.
Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Family: Malvaceae

Native range: Panhandle to Alachua and Columbia counties; Lake, Clay, Duval and Nassau counties

To see where natural populations of comfortroot have been vouchered, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/.

Hardiness: Zones 7-9b

Soil: Moist to moderately dry acidic soils

Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade

Growth habit: 2-3’+ tall and wide

Propagation: Seed, cuttings

Garden tips: Comfortroot is an attractive addition to a moist landscape. It appears shrubby but will die back in the winter and all but disappear. Annual pruning to the ground may be necessary. It can tolerate seasonal flooding and is also drought tolerant; however, it will not survive if soils are not moist or wet for part of the year. It will self-seed, but not prolifically.

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