Malvaviscus arboreus (Turk’s Cap)

Malvaviscus arboreus penduliflorus Alba (White Turk's Cap)Malvaviscus arboreus penduliflorus Alba (White Turk’s Cap) aka Turkcap, Mazapan, Turk’s turban, Wax mallow, Ladie’s teardrop and Scotchman’s purse,  is a species of flowering plant in the hibiscus family, Malvaceae, that is native to the Southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America. The plant has naturalized in tropical America but is less drought tolerant than Hibiscus, making it  suitable for USDA hardiness zones 7 through 10. Furthermore, according to the USDA map (see in sources below), this plant is not native to the U.S., but is considered as having naturalized there.

1805-21The Turk’s cap plant is named for the shape of its small flower, which resembles the traditional Turkish hat. Turk’s cap is related to the hibiscus plant and is sometimes called the “sleeping hibiscus” because its petals never fully open. (Turkish guard cavalry figures wore these hats. “Ein Janitschar in anderer Tracht. A Janissary in a different costume.” Image in the public domain)Malvaviscus arboreus (Turk's Cap)It belongs to a group of genera that differ from the closely related Hibiscus in possessing a fruit divided into 5 separate parts (a schizocarp), and having a style surmounted by 10, rather than 5, capitate or capitellate stigmas.  The generic name is derived from the Latin words malva, meaning “mallow,” and viscus, which means “sticky,” referring to the mucilaginous sap produced by members of the genus.

Turk's-cap White-Skipper (Heliopetes macaira)Turk’s cap is also the name of the caterpillar  ‘Turk’s-cap White-Skipper’ (Heliopetes macaira) whose host is the Malvaviscus arboreus plant (image CC 2.0 by Anne Toal).

MalvaviscusMalvaviscus arboreus Cav. [as Achania malvaviscus Sw.] The botanical cabinet [C. Loddiges], vol. 12: t. 1155 (1827) [G. Cooke]




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