Swamp Rose Mallow
(Wild Cotton)

By William T. Hathaway

Swamp Rose Mallow

The Swamp Rose Mallow or Wild Cotton (Hibiscus moscheutos) grows locally as a widely scattered species. In midsummer the white swamp rose mallow, always with a purple band inside the base of the petals, is commonly observed. However, the pink variety without the purple center is a surprising discovery. This pink subspecies (ssp. palustris) is especially beautiful and ranks high on my list of favorite wildflowers. It prefers edges of swamp forests, wet meadows and freshwater marshes. Pink rose mallows are usually growing in such soggy areas that getting a close look at the flower is to risk traipsing through high weeds and summertime bugs, not to mention muddy shoes.

Because of the abundance of colorful cultivated flowers, we may unwittingly denigrate the subtle beauty of our native wildflowers.