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Tuesday - September 07, 2010

From: Kerr, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Information about a red-flowered Pavonia lasiopetala in central TX.
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have grown Pavonia for years and just let it re-seed where it wants (and remove if I don't want it where it falls). This year I created a new 6 inch raised bed amended with compost and some manure (and bone meal since this is to be primarity an iris bed) below the existing pavonias. I left the new plants and they have bloomed beautifully this summer. Here's the question: in the midst of this bed of about 9 pavonias is one pavonia that is a different color - I would call it red. I have checked carefully and it is indeed a separate plant from the others. What caused this? Have I stumbled upon a new hybrid? I have a photo if you care to see it.


Pavonia lasiopetala (Texas swampmallow), most commonly known as Rock Rose, is a native of Texas and Northern Mexico which typically bears pink flowers ranging from soft, baby pink to carmine rose.  The flower color of Rock Rose is usually a very attractive hot pink.  Since this is the only species of Pavonia commonly grown in Central and West Texas, this is probably the plant in your garden.  A red-flowered Rock Rose would indeed be an unusual find.

Many plants bear flowers of colors different from the norm for that species.  White-colored flowers are common on many species that normally bear flowers of other colors.  The causes of color variations can be genetic, nutritional, or a result of pathogenic processes.  Whatever the cause, plant enthusiasts often highly prize plants bearing flowers of a truly new color.

We have not seen a Pavonia lasiopetala with true red flowers.  Such a plant would probably be quite valuable in horticulture.  However, you should first ascertain that your plant is truly a Rock Rose.  There are red-flowered mallows native to Texas that could easily be confused with Rock Rose.  Please see our Plant Identification webpage for complete instructions on how to submit images for ID,


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