Flora of the Southeastern United States
2022 Edition


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Key to Hibiscus

1 Woody shrub, the stems usually solitary from a creeping rhizome; [section Hibiscus]
1 Herb (sometimes robust and to as tall as 3.5 m), often several from ground level, from a crown or taproot.
..2 Annual from a taproot, to 0.5 m tall; calyx inflated at maturity; capsule 1.0-1.3 cm long; petals 1.5-3 (-4) cm long; leaves 2-6 cm long, deeply cleft; [section Trionum]
..2 Perennial from a crown, usually 0.7-3.5 m tall; calyx not inflated at maturity; capsule 1.7-3.5 cm long; petals 4-14 cm long; leaves 4-25 cm long, deeply cleft, hastate-lobed, or not at all lobed or cleft.
....3 Leaves and stems harshly scabrous; calyx lobes each with an elongate purplish nectary on the back; [of pine savannas and dry sandy soils of maritime forest edges, from se. NC southward]; [section Furcaria]
....3 Leaves and stems glabrous, softly pubescent, or slightly scabrous; calyx lobes lacking nectaries; [of marshes and swamps (sometimes cultivated in drier soils), collectively widespread in our area]; [section Muenchhusia].
......4 Stem glabrous; leaves glabrous; leaves either palmately 3-5-lobed, or prominently halberd-lobed at the base (uncommonly unlobed).
........5 Leaves either palmately 3-5-lobed; petals bright scarlet
........5 Leaves halberd-lobed at the base (uncommonly unlobed); petals pink or white with a purplish base
......4 Stem pubescent at least when young; leaves pubescent on at least one surface; leaves unlobed or slightly lobed toward the tip (except H. grandiflorus).
..........6 Staminal column 6.2-9.5 cm long, > ⅔ × as long as the petals; petals 8.5-14 cm long; [e. GA southward]
..........6 Staminal column 1.2-5 cm long, < ½× as long as the petals; petals 4-12 cm long; [widespread].
............ 7 Capsule glabrous and dark brown to black; bracts of involucel eciliate; upper leaf surface glabrous or nearly so
............ 7 Capsule pubescent (the dark surface largely or completely obscured); bracts of the involucel usually ciliate; upper leaf surface usually modertaley densely stellate-pubescent.
............ ..8 Plants mostly > 1 m tall, little branched upwards; upper leaves mosly > 8 cm long; upper leaves desnsely stellate pubescent below, glabrescent above; [widespread in the western part of our region]
............ ..8 Plants mostly < 1 m tall, with abundant axillary branches in the upper half od the plant; upper leaves mostly < 7 cm long; upper leaves densesly stellate pubescent and whitened below, less so above but distinctly gray with stellate pubescence; [coastal prairies of w. LA and se. TX]