Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Plant of the Week: Halberd-leaved rose mallow or smooth rose mallow (Hibiscus laevis)

This native perennial gets its name from the arrow or halberd shaped leaves that occur on this species that is common pretty much across the entire state of Kentucky. It does best and is found naturally near wetlands, streams, ponds, and other moist soil habitats, but does just fine in the garden.  If you are planting in a wet area, be aware this species can literally take over the entire habitat.  Of course there are worse things than having a 4 to 6' tall showy plant with up to 6" wide hollyhock like flowers that range from white to pink to red (and yes I have seen all color forms in Kentucky).  The 5 petaled flowers have a deep maroon center with a very prominent staminal column.  The plant has a deep taproot but it spreads easily via seed.  I recommend cutting this species back in the fall of the year to maintain a more horticultural appearance.  This species is pollinated by bumblebees and an oligoletic  (means specializing on pollinating one species or groups of species of plants) bee that also feeds on wild morning glories.  The plant also serves as a host for gray hairstreak butterflies (buds and seeds), painted lady and checkered skippers (foliage) and some moths including the pearly wood nymph, Io, and Delightful bird-dropping moth. Unfortunately Japanese beetles will eat this plant and deer will also consume the non-toxic foliage as well.  However, this is a much better replacement in the landscape than the exotic Rose of Sharon bush, which is invasive.

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