Sharon's blog: Life's little mysteries

Posted on Aug 29, 2011 11:54 PM


It grows near the butterfly bush up on the little hill in my back yard. The question of its familial ties never bothered me until recently when it suddenly became a show stopper with its mass of blooms and neon red color.

"What's that plant?" they asked?


"Where'd you get it?"

'Up the head of the holler where I grew up'.

"I need that, do you ever divide the roots?"

'Well no, but here's a seed or two'.

Somebody told me it was a Texas Star, so that's what I called it when I posted pictures of it on various sites.  That was years ago and of course there were those who disputed my naming of it.

Well, shoot. I had no clue what it was except it was the hibiscus that used to grow in Granny Ninna's yard. I don't know where she got it, who gave it to her, or when. It just grew in her yard.  Sometime in the 80's I brought it home with me.

Then I realized I couldn't just keep calling it Texas Star unless I wanted arguments every time I wrote its name. I thought maybe I ought to be better informed.

2011-08-30/Sharon/49b0d6 2011-08-30/Sharon/8ffdca

First I had it in the front yard, but the trees grew and so did the shade. I moved it to the back where it got all day sun. It grew and bloomed and in the meantime I got a start of my Great Gramma Combs' pink hibiscus. They didn't have the same leaves at all but I planted the pink one near the red one because it seemed to be a good spot. I just left them alone to grow, side by side.


They said:  "What's that pink bloom?"


"And the red one is?"


"They can't be the same, they have different leaves!"


So I decided I needed to do a little research.

I googled 'red hibiscus'. I got Texas Star, and realized it wasn't the same.

I googled 'red halberd leafed hibiscus.'

OK, that made a difference, I got Hibiscus laevis, but it doesn't come in red. It's colors are white all the way to a dark pink color, but no red.

It's a cool plant, but then I like all of the hibiscus, no matter the color. This one just happens to have the skinny pointed halberd leaf foliage which makes it almost too dainty and feminine for an 8'+ tall plant.  Was it the Hibiscus militaris?  So named because of the shield - look of its leaf? Don't know.

Scarlet Rose Mallow? Nope, the leaves are wrong.

Butterflies and hummers love it. So do various bees.

Red shield? Maybe, but I'm not sure. It's an old plant, years old, because it grew in Granny Ninna's yard for such a long time. We lost her in '78, and it had been established for years even then.  So I don't know.

There's a distinct separation of its 5 bloom petals, and it is huge; maybe as big as 10 inches. It sure does put on a show.

Like all hardy hibiscus, it dies back in winter. I save the seeds to give away, and leave the others to fall and spread, but it has kept close and though I have a full bushy growth most years, last year in our drought it was a couple of skinny stalks with a bloom or two here and there. It wasn't even worth talking about and I truly thought I'd lost it.

Not so as you can see in the first picture.

It isn't as though I obsessively need to know its name. It's always going to be Granny Ninna's hibiscus. But I've had it for so many years and every single year somebody says, 'What's that plant?'

And I say, "Hibiscus".

Wouldn't it be fun if, before it or I -- either of us -- decides it's time to fade into oblivion, wouldn't it be fun if I could tell somebody its proper name?



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Thread Title Last Reply Replies
The name? by dahtzu Sep 18, 2011 7:08 PM 1
luv it! by dahtzu Sep 18, 2011 7:06 PM 1
beautiful by vic Aug 31, 2011 3:30 PM 5

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