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Kosteletzkya virginica (Virginia saltmarsh mallow)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Kosteletzkya virginica

Kosteletzkya virginica (L.) C. Presl ex A. Gray

Virginia saltmarsh mallow, Virginia fen-rose, Saltmarsh mallow, Seashore mallow

Malvaceae (Mallow Family)

Synonym(s): Kosteletzkya althaeifolia, Kosteletzkya pentacarpos, Kosteletzkya smilacifolia, Kosteletzkya virginica var. althaeifolia, Kosteletzkya virginica var. aquilonia

USDA Symbol: kovi

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A coarse, hairy perennial, Virginia fen-rose or seashore mallow is much-branched and angular in habit. A large plant with pink, terminal or axillary, stalked flowers with yellow stamens. It grows 3-5 ft. tall and spreads to 4 ft. in width. Its leaves are triangular-ovate with triangular lobes at the base. The hibiscus-like flowers are light pink and 3 in. across with a central column of yellow stamens.

This Mallow is especially abundant in southern Louisiana. It is distinguished from Hibiscus by the flat ring of fruit segments. K. altheaeifolia, found on east coast of Texas, is recognized by some botanists as separate species; others regard it as a variety of K. virginica.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Subshrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Size Notes: Normally 4 to 6 feet at maturity, which it reaches in about 5 years. Once its reached this height, its life is nearing its end, as it only lives about 5 years.
Leaf: Grayish green
Flower: Flowers 2 inches wide.
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Flowers close at night.


USA: AL , DE , FL , GA , LA , MD , MS , NC , NJ , NY , PA , SC , TX , VA
Native Distribution: Coastal areas from MD to FL to TX to Cuba
Native Habitat: Brackish marshes; coastal plains; swamps

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2) , Acidic (pH<6.8)
Drought Tolerance: Low
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Prefers sand, but will tolerate clay. Moderately salt tolerant, though does best with high acidity.
Conditions Comments: Seashore mallow adapts to less saline soils. The plant grows in brackish, swampy conditions, shallow standing water, or regular garden soil.


Use Ornamental: Great for color in late summer through fall.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Minimal


Propagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Seeds germinate easily, particularly in warm (70 degree) soils. Tip cuttings, taken before flowering, will root.
Seed Collection: Wait for the capsule to turn brown and split open before collecting seed. Mature seeds are smooth and dark brown. It may be necessary to dis-infest seeds of weevils before storing in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Soak the night before planting.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Short-lived, only to about 5 years, so allow seedlings to establish as the plant seeds out.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Native Plant Nursery - Sanibel, FL

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1280 Collected 2009-07-17 in Brazoria County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

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Research Literature

Reslit 583 - Callus culture from hypocotyls of Kosteletzkya virginica (L) seedlings - Its growth, salt tolerance and response to abscisic acid (1995) E. Hasson and A. PoljakoffMayber
Reslit 629 - Chemical height control of containerized seashore mallow (2005) K. R. Hilgers, C. Haynes and W. R. Graves
Reslit 1089 - Population biology of Kosteletzkya pentacarpos (Malvaceae) in the Llobregat delta (Catalonia, NE of Spain) (2007) J. Pino and E. de Roa
Reslit 1091 - Organogenesis from shoot segments and via callus of endangered Kosteletzkya pentacarpos (L.) Ledeb (2010) A. Piovan, R. Caniato, E. M. Cappelletti and R. Fi...
Reslit 1184 - Kosteletzkya virginica displays mixed mating in response to the pollinator environment despite strong inbreeding depression (2009) C. J. Ruan, H. Li and S. Mopper
Reslit 1187 - Floral traits and pollination modes in Kosteletzkya virginica (Malvaceae) (2005) C. J. Ruan, P. Qin and Y. G. Xi
Reslit 1188 - Callus induction and plant regeneration from embryonic axes of Kosteletzkya virginica (2009) C. J. Ruan, X. Zheng, J. A. T. da Silva and P. Qin
Reslit 1189 - Contribution of delayed autonomous selfing to reproductive success in Kosteletzkya virginica (2008) C. J. Ruan, L. J. Zhou, F. Y. Zeng, R. M. Han, Q. ...
Reslit 1397 - Karyology, pollen and seed morphology, and distribution of eight endangered species in the Veneto region (Northern Italy) (2000) N. Tornadore, R. Marcucci and S. Marchiori
Reslit 1577 - Culture of Seashore Mallow under Different Salinity Levels Using Plastic Nutrient-Rich Matrices and Transplantation (2010) G. S. Zhou, Y. R. Xia, B. L. Ma, C. N. Feng and P....

This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
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Additional resources

USDA: Find Kosteletzkya virginica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Kosteletzkya virginica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Kosteletzkya virginica


Record Modified: 2015-09-30
Research By: BJG

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