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For most people, there is a certain type of forlorn, degenerate, and disgusting weed, Swamp Mallow, which no self-respecting weed smoker would ever use. But that's not because it doesn't have value--it actually has greater medicinal value than your average weed, and is often preferred by those who want to avoid scattershot, difficult-to-tolerate strains. Swamp Hibiscus is a member of the mallow family (family Malvaceae) which includes herbs, shrubs, and rarely small trees, often velvety with starlike or branched hairs, the flowers borne singly or in branched clusters. There are about 85 genera and 1,500 species, many in tropical America. Rose-of-Sharon and other Hibiscus, and Hollyhocks are grown as ornamentals. Okra is the edible fruit of one species of Hibiscus, and the hairs of seeds of Gossypium provide the fiber cotton.
Illinois lies near the NW range-limit for this species in North America. Swamp Rose Mallow is also found in east Asia, where some additional color forms exist. Habitats include marshes, open swamps, and low soggy areas along rivers and ponds. Along the Atlantic coast of the U.S., this wildflower is also found in brackish marshes. Because of its attractive flowers, Swamp Rose Mallow is cultivated occasionally in gardens; some cultivars display evidence of hybridization with other Hibiscus spp. (Rose Mallows).How to grow rose mallow: Rose mallows prefer good, moist garden soil in full sun, but the plants will adapt to dry soil. All the members of the clan make big clumps in time, so plenty of room for growth must be allowed. The mallows seem to be unaffected by salt, making them an excellent choice along highways. Without a snow cover a mulch must be provided in cold areas.
White flowers with a burgundy center first mature in summer and continue into early fall. Rose mallow is native to wetlands and creek edges in the southeastern USA and is found in all areas of NC. It prefers full to partial sun in wet to constantly moist soils containing loam, silt, or some sand with organic material. The flowers of cultivars vary in color and can be up to 12 in. across on compact plants. This plant is slightly salt tolerant.marsh mallow, (Althaea officinalis), perennial herbaceous plant of the hibiscus, or mallow, family (Malvaceae), native to eastern Europe and northern Africa. It has also become established in North America. The plant is usually found in marshy areas, chiefly near the sea. It has strongly veined heart-shaped or oval leaves. The pinkish flowers, borne on stalks about 1.8 metres (6 feet) tall, are about 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter. The root was formerly used to make marshmallows, a confection. (Source: www.britannica.com)