Thanks once again to Claire for writing today’s entry:
Hibiscus laevis of the mallow family, Malvaceae, is a native to eastern and central North America. The five delicate petals are arranged in a whorl pattern and are imbricate (overlapping), with the flowers reaching up to 13cm (5 inches) across. It’s interesting to note that Hibiscus laevis only has one mature flower in bloom each day during its bloom season.
Halberd-leaved rose mallow or scarlet rose mallow are the common names for this species (a halberd is a medieval weapon, while the scarlet appellation is due to the deep red throat occurring in most flowers). The green lantern-like features on the plant in the photograph are flowers in bud, enfolded by huge sepals.
Hibiscus flowers have a bit of an unusual structure. Hibiscus laevis has a central column that bears both the male and female reproductive organs. Five female pistils are present at the top of the column, and the column is then surrounded by numerous anthers emerging from fused filaments (a monadelphous stamen arrangement). This prevents self pollination and promotes bee pollination quite effectively as the anthers (pollen-bearing) and the stigma (female organ) are separated by space. For additional images, including photographs of leaf shape variation and a closer look at flower parts, see AlabamaPlants: Hibiscus laevis.