Hibiscus trionum L.
Trionum trionum (L.) Wooton & Standl. nom. inval.
Flower-of-an-hour, Bladder Hibiscus, Bladder Ketmia, Bladder Weed, Modesty, Puarangi, Shoofly, Venice Mallow
Flower-of-an-hour is so named because its flowers open for only a few hours before wilting. It is a perennial in areas that don’t get any frost, but elsewhere it is an annual. They are native to Old World tropics and subtropics, but as a result of introduction to southern Europe and the United States, it is grown both as an ornamental and naturalized as a weed in those locations. It has a preference for well-lit cultivated or disturbed ground, or waste areas.
Plants: Plants are 8-20" (20-50 cm) high, rarely reaching 31" (80 cm). Stems are round and hairy.
Flowers: White or pale yellow, with a deep purple center and five petals. Nestled in the center of the purple region are a cluster of 13 or more yellow-topped stamens. Flowers are up to 2" (5 cm) around. The purple coloration may be an example of iridescence created by diffraction gratings, though this is not confirmed. Few plants have evolved iridescent coloring, though it is fairly common among insects. (See Structural colour and iridescence in plants: the poorly studied relations of pigment colour for more information.) Flowers appear from July to August.
Fruits: Seeds are oval, and ⅜-1¼" (1-3.5 cm) long. They ripen from August to October.
Edibility: Technically, young leaves, shoots, and flowers are edible, but described as “mucilaginous” (slimy and sticky, for those of you who don’t remember mucilage) and “without much flavor.”
Hibiscus trionum at Illinois Wildflowers
Hibiscus trionum on Wikipedia
Hibiscus trionum on tropical.theferns.info
Hibiscus trionum at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Hibiscus trionum on gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org
Hibiscus trionum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 24 Aug 2020.
Range: Zones 2-11: