Brian identified the location of the Hibiscus militaris as “Taylor Road, Fitzgerald, GA 31750”. Taylor Road is a 1.35 mile long dirt road which runs east to west. The midpoint of the road is at GPS(31.694951°, -83.373347°). This locations is 7.25 miles west by south-west from the city of Fitzgerald, GA. There is a Google Street View of the western end of Taylor Road from Jeff Davis Park Road. The exact location along Taylor Road is unknown. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=31.694951,+-83.373347
I thought I might have a specimen of this Hibiscus which was accidently included in a seed purchase but have now identified this Hibiscus as cultivar of Hibiscus moscheutos which may be a partial Hibiscus militaris hybrid.
Is there any DG member living near this location who might be able to collect seeds on my behalf? I would be happy to provide a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) and have a growing number of native Hibiscus seeds which I can offer in trade. I also have the seeds of several semi-tropical Hibiscus which should do will in Georgia.
The end of November is very late. Even if the pods are still on the stalks the chances are good that most of the seeds have been scattered. If there are still pods you may be able to find some seeds at the bottom pod. I have done exactly that in New Jersey.
If you have never grown native Hibiscus, you may not recognize the stalks which will be leafless by the end of November. I received an Email from Brian Brown who indicated that there was only one clump which was small in size. Also we don’t know if the Hibiscus bloomed this year as the picture is two years old. In New Jersey one of the problems is the highway road departments and their supersized lawnmowers. Surviving populations of Hibiscus congregate in water filled roadside ditches and I sometimes believe that the road crews get a bonus for killing Hibiscus.
If no one can get to Taylor Road in the next few weeks it will too late this year. Brian promised to go back next summer and take new photographs and an accurate GPS waypoint. Next summer, I would ask anyone in area about Taylor Road to be on the lookout for wild pink Hibiscus. If you see anything, take a picture and get a GPS location.
I am going to check the topographic maps of the area to identify watercourses. In New Jersey, I have found that I can find populations of Hibiscus by first finding surface water.
You may want to try contacting Matt Richards at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. He specializes in the native species preservation program and may have a lead for you. He collaborates with a person, also named Brian, who is with the Atlanta Botanical Garden, but is at their research extension in Gainseville, GA.. This Brian specializes in wet growing natives. Is there a reason you are especially interested in this species or, for that matter, the genus?
If you could get a more detailed location, I might could go look. It's only about an hour from me. I love to look for plants on the side of the road, so it would be an adventure for me. Just recently found spider lilies and white rain lilies. Let me know...
If you look at my posts on the Hibiscus Forum, you will find that I have been researching Hibiscus in general and the breeding of hardy Hibiscus over the last 110 years. What many people don’t realize (including me until recently) is that many of the crosses involving our hardy Hibiscus are genetically lethal. There is one pathway through that genetic minefield which Ernest Hemming found it in 1900. The most important Hibiscus is not Hibiscus coccineus or Hibiscus moscheutos, it is Hibiscus laevis (syn. Hibiscus militaris) which is a genetic bridge for the transference of the red color of H. coccineus to H. moscheutos. If you compare the Pistil of H. coccineus and H. laevis the reason Ernest Hemming chose that path becomes obvious. I am adding Hibiscus laevis to my collection next year and have been searching for cultivars hence my interest in the unusual specimen from George. I have looked at every picture of this Hibiscus which Google Images could find on the Internet and the plant on Taylor Road is unique. Here is a thread I started on the history of hardy Hibiscus breeding.
I am also convinced that there is a lost verity or species Hibiscus in the American south-east. Several specimens have been found over the last 150 years and Harvard University has a preserved specimen for which they kindly provided me with a high resolution photograph and supporting documentation. This Hibiscus was originally known as the yellow Hibiscus incanus but would be know today as Hibiscus moscheutos var. incanus. The specimen at Harvard University was collected in 1887 near the town of Warrior Alabama. There are DG members near the town of Warrior Alabama who are searching for the yellow Hibiscus incanus. This search many take a few years to find, if it still exists, but we are looking. For additional information see the second post in this thread.
In summary, I highly motivated anytime an unusual picture of a wild Hibiscus is posted on the Internet, particularly if it is in the American south-east. If one day you are driving along a Georgia road and notice a Hibiscus with an unusual tint of yellow or pink please stop, take a picture and get the GPS Waypoint from your car navigation system. There are still discoveries to be made.
If I can obtain a more accurate location on Taylor Road, I will post it. If the Hibiscus were still in bloom it would be easy to find them but not at this time of the year. I would not ask anyone to drive an hour on what may well be a wild goose chase. Next summer, it may be worth a visit to Taylor Road. There could be more of this Hibiscus verity in the area so keep your eyes opened next summer.
Taylor Road is contained in the topographic maps of Fitzgerald West and Irwinville. When searching for Georgia maps, be sure to specify a location or county. The download of all the place names in Georgia takes a long time.
I edited and concatenated the two sections of Taylor Road into a single composite map which is attached to this post. Water flows across Taylor Road from south to north at three locations along the road. From west to east the first watercourse is at the intersection of Taylor Road and Jeff Davis Park Road which you can see in the Google Street View from Jeff Davis Park Road. The second watercourse is approximately 450 feet from the western end of Taylor Road. The third watercourse is near the midpoint of Taylor Road which is referenced in my first post and north of two farm-ponds which dam the third watercourse just to the south of the road.
All three watercourses are likely places to find Hibiscus and other water loving plants but from the topographic map the second watercourse appears to have the largest and most reliable source of water to the south and that would be my first pick. In the Google Earth and Google Map views, you can see the tree line exactly following the second watercourse shown in the topographic map.
Another good place to look would be Adams Road which is the next road to the south of Taylor Road and visible of the attached topographic map. Three watercourses also cross Adams Road and connect to two of the watercourses crossing Taylor Road.
In New Jersey Hibiscus moscheutos seeds float and are dispersed by water. I don’t know if the seeds of Hibiscus militaris float but if they do, searching along the watercourse on which the Hibiscus are found, is an excellent way to find more Hibiscus. This search technique should work for any water loving plant.
If anyone can locate the Hibiscus militaris we will see how good my theory is!
DG member YardBirdJim made a 20 mile journey to Taylor Road in search of Hibiscus militaris but couldn’t locate it because of extreme drought conditions in southern Georgia. With Jim’s permission, I am posting his three private messages here in chronological order and what to thank Jim for his efforts. The rains will be return and the flowers will bloom again in Georgia and this time the members of this forum will be ready.
I have just finished searching Taylor Road to no avail -10/16/2011. I have no means of ascertaining GPS coordinates but did a thorough search both ways on the road. I closely searched what I believe was the area on the Google Map in the general vicinity of (31.694951°, -83.373347°). If the plant is there on the side of the road, it is not in flower. I am not that familiar with Hibiscus militaris so I did some research on it. The closest experience that I have is in growing Hibiscus coccineus which is not even close. I looked for the familiar halberd shaped leaves and more specifically for the large seed pods but saw none. Taylor Road is a very secluded narrow dirt road that is bordered on both sides by dense woodland and intensive and varied vegetative growth. Regardless, I looked very closely and did not see any resemblance of wild Hibiscus militaris. I am disappointed as I would like to have photographed it and collected seed in which I would have grown as well as pass some along to you. In all the years that I have traveled other rural dirt roads, I have never seen a wild flower as impressive as this growing alongside the roads. It is very eye-catching to say the least. This was the first time I have traveled Taylor Road as it is probably 20+ miles from my home. I am very familiar with “Vanishing South Georgia” but not a member. I am sorry that I did not find the plant but will keep an eye out for it.
I find the topo maps interesting and useful. I will be resorting to this resource in the future. Although not as detailed, I used an Irwin county Dept. of Transportation map for reference. I paid close attention to what was supposed to be the wet areas where the small streams crossed the road. There is no water due to the fact that south Georgia has experienced an ongoing exceptional drought for many months now. Exceptional drought is the level above extreme drought. We are severely deficient in total amount of rainfall this year and have been for two or three years. Major streams that we call creeks only have small puddles here and there where they would normally be coursing with water. In many areas trees are dying from the drought related stress. Plants with major water requirements are probably in dire straits. Nature has a way of continuing the species and most native plants are resilient and adaptable. This wildflower will reemerge somewhere in the near future and I hope to find it.
By all means you have my permission but please don't discourage anyone else from looking. Someone else may see something that I missed. Conditions in south Georgia are as bad as in Texas. Much of the Okefenokee Swamp refuge has been lost due to drought related wildfires that have been ongoing since April. We are the peanut capital of the world and due to the drought, peanut butter prices are going to skyrocket. I have spent a great deal of money, time, and effort in trying to keep the plants in my large hummingbird garden alive but have lost most of my lawn. Most plants are under varying degrees of stress but I believe that if a plant is native and well established, it has a chance of surviving this most severe of droughts. I just can't believe the large number of trees and shrubs that are dying all around.
Jim had mentioned his work with Hibiscus coccineus and that he had no direct experience with Hibiscus militaris. If you don’t have access to Hibiscus militaris the next closest Hibiscus genetically is Hibiscus coccineu. Never underestimate the applicability of what you learn from one plant species to another.
To give you some idea of exactly how unusual the Taylor Road Hibiscus militaris is I what to share two Google Image searches for Hibiscus militaris or H. laevis under either name.
If you click on the second link above, which is the Georgia restricted search, the first image should be of a very pink Taylor Road Hibiscus militaris. If you click on this picture you should go to the Vanishing South Georgia website.
If anyone does locate the Taylor plant , it hasn't frozen yet in that area, and cuttings can be taken and propagated
Is it a small plant ? I have a Confederate that is 8'tall and two 3 1/2' shrubs that I dug off the side of the road in Lumpkin county . Neither the color you are looking for but will give more attention next year and take pictures to post of the flower . I thought someone just threw out some cuttings and they rooted .I saw the blooms and went back to collect them .
With Hibiscus militaris cuttings must be taken in the late string or early summer, so that the plant’s root system is well established before winter. At this time of the year the best way to propagate Hibiscus militaris is through root divisions.
With Hibiscus mutabilis (Confederate Rose) it is also most impossible not to root this Hibiscus, at any time of the year when the plant is growing. I have a Hibiscus mutabilis Alma’s Star in my Zone 6b garden which survived last winter under 5 foot snow drifts and is getting to bloom. Conventional Hibiscus mutabilis didn’t do as well last winter in New Jersey.
You don't think the cuttings would root in the greenhouse , to be planted in the spring ? Just a thought .
I can't wait now until spring to see what my blooms are of the two orphans I dug . They are planted at my old house , so haven't paid them much attention the last 10 years . You've renewed my interest .
Last fall I cloned four Hibiscus Lord Baltimore from stem cutting, three of which rooted and bloomed several times during the winter. In the spring, when it was safe, I put the clones outside where they immediately started dropping their leaves. One plant eventually recovered and started sending up growth and bloomed last summer. I went to discard the other two plants only to discover that the roots were very much alive and apparently in a state of winter dormancy which I had accidently induced. The roots remained alive all summer and are still green at the surface. I am going to let them go through a normal winter cold cycle which will hopefully snap them out of their dormant state next spring.
If I had realized what was going on earlier, I could have put the Hibiscus into the refrigerator to reset their internal clock. Our hardy North American Hibiscus must go through a cold cycle otherwise they will not do well. This is why it is difficult to grow these Hibiscus in Southern Florida. It is not that they can tolerate freezing conditions they must have freezing conditions to remain healthy.
If you clone Hibiscus militaris in a greenhouse and establish a healthy root structure over the winter and then induce an artificial cold period you might be able to get away with it. You also need to pay attention to the length of the day/night cycle.This is something on my to-do list but not this winter.
Hibiscus mutabilis is from Northern Asia and hard freeze cycle is apparently not mandatory but it can survive some freezing with protection.
Thanks for the information . I know when I do root them in water , I have to wait on the secondary , feeder roots to get at least two inches long for the before I put them in pots . Never had just the main roots live and make a plant if I didn't wait . This is getting exciting now .
I hope this past winter has been kind to your Georgia gardens. It is spring and several of my Hibiscus has started sprouting early after a very mild winter in NJ. I was wondering is the rains have returned to Georgia this spring? I am looking forward to resuming the hunt for the Taylor Road Hibiscus laevis (syn. militaris) but the rains must come first. Any information would be most appreciated.
We have had an unseasonably dry Spring. No rain in Atlanta or north Georgia in a week to ten days depending on where you live. It was first warm, followed by plummeting temps and frost. Now it's downright hot! Guess that sums it up.
We've had a little rain in south GA but not much. It is very dry, but the forecast has rain chance forcast for next week. Do you know when he took the photograph? I have been following this thread and since I live about 45 minutes from Fitzgerald, I, like you would love to find this hibiscus. If we know when it bloomed it would help me to find it.
There is also another hibiscus that blooms here, but it is white/cream colored. Maybe you could id it for me. I did dig some of them up, but they did not bloom for me last year. If they bloom this year or when the ones beside the road bloom, I will take a picture and post here in hopes of an ID.
GAgirl1066 wrote:There is also another hibiscus that blooms here, but it is white/cream colored. Maybe you could id it for me. I did dig some of them up, but they did not bloom for me last year.
Did the white/cream colored Hibiscus have a red eye? Could the color be described as a straw-yellow? I have been looking for such a plant for several years now. Yes, I would be extremely interested in your wild Hibiscus.
If you put the Hibiscus in a large grower’s pot then put the pot in a pan with a few inches of water the response of the Hibiscus should be dramatic. Our hardy North American Hibiscus love water. See the following post:
If I remember correctly they did, but not positive. I will take a picture of the leaves and post here. Lack of water was probably why they didn't bloom, because the ones I have seen, are all in ditches. I'll keep you informed on those.
I remembered that there may be another way to obtain an assessment of surface water conditions in the State of Georgia by accessing the real-time stream gauges operated by the United States Geologic Service. The national assessment can be found here, which shows a real problem for much of the American South
This doesn’t look at all encouraging for locating the Taylor Road Hibiscus. To end of a positive note, the DG members who are plant hunters might find this information useful. The GPS coordinates for the real-time gauges as posted on the website which you can enter into your car navigation system, if you want to see a real-time gauge in operation.
I went down to the coast one day this week and notice that the white ones are blooming. I didn't have my camera or I would have taken a pic of them. Very interested in what you have to say about them. They'll probably wind up not being even related to hibs. LOL
GAgirl1066 wrote:I went down to the coast one day this week and notice that the white ones are blooming. I didn't have my camera or I would have taken a pic of them. Very interested in what you have to say about them. They'll probably wind up not being even related to hibs.
This very early for any Hibiscus laevis or Hibiscus moscheutos or any other member of Hibiscus section Muenchhusia to be blooming. Discounting the possibility of non-native Hibiscus, the only native Hibiscus lookalike which I can think of is Kosteletzkya virginica which is normally pink, with no eye, but there is a white cultivar known as K. virginica 'Immaculate'. I am growing both forms this season. This member of the Malvaceae family will grow in salt water, so drought is not an issue, and the DG PlantFiles lists it as a “mid-spring” bloomer.
In the Nineteenth Century this species was identified as Hibiscus virginica until it was reassigned to the Kosteletzkya genus. What caught my attention about this species is that its chromosome count is identical to our North American native Hibiscus in section Muenchhusia. In the 1990’s the government of China imported K. virginica from the United States and is conducting genetic research on the plant’s salt tolerance and its applicability in dealing with salinity problems in Chinese farmlands. My two plants are from www.NicheGardens.com. The plant is hardy into Zone 5 and has the appearance of an exotic tropically Hibiscus. Living in Zone 6, I will take anything I can get!
Is there an eye on the flowers you found? I would very much like to see a photograph.
Yes, if I remember correctly. I took pictures of the leaves on mine and it has small buds, so it will be blooming in a couple of weeks. Normally they don't bloom this early, but we didn;t have any cold weather this year. Will post the pics later tonight.
I have been waiting for the pictures of the flowers to confirm species identification. I take it they didn’t bloom yet or you have not had the opportunity to take photographs.
I have been very encouraged by the rains falling about Fitzgerald Georgia in the last several weeks. While the amount of rain is not fantastic it may enough to stimulate the Hibiscus into blooming. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. Fitzgerald is just on the edge of the region where water levels are returning to normal for this time of year.
Good moisture in the area 60 miles above Atlanta . Drippy moisture all night and so far today .It was pretty dry and hot in April through the first part of May,better now
I've been following this thread from the first and have three plants I dug out of a ditch 12 years ago . Two pinkish and a red . I've been waiting for blooms when I'm not gone out of state but so far haven't had any . The D H cut them down this spring , but they are growing back now . It's probably too late for blooms this year , they are only about eight inches tall . I incorrectly reported two plants , before . There were three . Probably common , but I want pictures anyway .
GAgirl1066 wrote:There was only two of the second, but hundreds of the first one. I tried to dig up the bigger one, but didn't have a big enough shovel. so I plan on going back in the next couple of weeks.
You have identified two very nice Hibiscus species. I was very surprised to learn that they are blooming this early but we have had an unusually warm spring.
If you are going to dig Hibiscus at this time of year, be sure to bring a water filled bucket with you to immediately immerse the roots. Lowes and Home Depot sell 5 gallon buckets with covers which should do the trick. When traveling in a car with a water filled bucket be sure that buck is secured in the even of a sudden stop and/or turn. If you surmise that I am talking with the voice of experience, you are absolutely correct. I have thought about using partially water filled heavy-duty plastic bags which can be secured at the top but have not tried that yet. There are also collapsible water containers used in camping but you can’t store plants in them. Whatever you use, keep the roots wet at all times and out of the sun, and be carful with the water in the car.
Your first Hibiscus is the classic form of the wild Hibiscus moscheutos. The five extended Stigma at the end of the Style is conformation of species identification. The red veins in the leaves, verifies that this is H. moscheutos and not an H. moscheutos subspecies. H. moscheutos will not survive much further south of your location in Georgia as it must go through a winter cold cycle. At locations further south than the Florida Panhandle survival becomes problematic.
I have wild forms of both white H. moscheutos and pink H. moscheutos in my collection, both with red eyes. I keep them to remind me how very different the wild Hibiscus moscheutos are from the domestic forms which go be the same name. These are my reality controls. Did you observe any pink forms of H. moscheutos? The flower you photographed is in the trumpet shape, did you see any more open and flat flowers?
Your second Hibiscus appears to Hibiscus aculeatus (Comfortroot or Pinelands Mallow). I would have liked a better side photograph of the Style but the leaves are very typical of the species. The flowers can have colors ranging from white to pale yellow. I had a specimen in my Zone 6b garden for 2 years but I didn’t give it enough protection last winter and lost the plant. Late last summer the H. aculeatus bloomed but never set seeds. New Jersey is clearly outside the survival range of this Hibiscus. There are reported medical applications for Hibiscus aculeatus but I can’t vouch for their accuracy. The Hibiscus species is more closely related Central American and African Hibiscus species than our hardy North American Hibiscus species.
Thank you Michael. Both flowers the buds actually looked pale yellow. The camera does not capture the color very well. The first and smaller one I did not notice fully opened, they all seemed to be partially opened. It was raining so I thought that may have something to do with it.Hopefully I will have sucess in digging up the aculeatus. I will try to get a big root ball with the soil in tact.
Do you think I should plan a trip to Fitzgerald now? The above have been blooming for about 2-3 weeks now.
GAgirl1066 wrote:Do you think I should plan a trip to Fitzgerald now? The above have been blooming for about 2-3 weeks now.
According weather forecast, there is going to be a 50% or better chance of thunder storms about Fitzgerald GA for the next four days, so next weekend may be a good time to explore Fitzgerald GA. If you are checking Taylor Road, don’t forget Adams Road which is immediately to the south of Taylor Road and up stream as the water is flowing from south to north. Darien, GA is near the Atlantic Ocean so it is going to be warmer and wetter there and the flowers may bloom earlier. Also, remember that we are dealing with three different species of Hibiscus and it is dangerous to extrapolate behavior without supporting evidence.
Two years ago in southern New Jersey I visited a salt marsh which I absolutely knew contained thousands of Hibiscus moscheutos, of the same type you found, and was unable to see a single flower as conditions had been very dry. That night there is a light rain and the next day the same marsh was ablaze with flowers. Hibiscus moscheutos will synchronize blooming with the onset of rain. As I have not observed Hibiscus militaris in the wild, I can’t predict how that species will behave.
Be sure to bring permanent markers with you to identify the location in the future and take photographs and GPS coordinates of everything.
The USGS streamflow maps suggest that drought conditions in Georgia are easing. The area about Fitzgerald Georgia and to the south are no longer in drought conditions. In areas of Georgia which have not returned to normal, the USGA lists them as “Below Normal” which is a big improvement. If the Hibiscus militaris along Taylor Road survived, this may be a good time to start looking for it.
GAgirl1066 had reported on collecting Hibiscus aculeatus in eastern Georgia. While cleaning my front garden, I discovered that one Hibiscus aculeatus, which I planted three years from seed, had survived. I had to move the Hibiscus but it appears to be doing well for now. I hope to find a strain of H. aculeatus which can not only survive a Zone 6 winter but also flower and set seeds before the snows come. I was surprised to learn that H. aculeatus will bloom in June in Georgia; in the north it is a fall bloomer, if it blooms at all and sets seeds. The problem with gardening in Zone 6 is that you run out of summer too quickly.
In my original post I identified a third Style Color Pattern as follows.
Hibiscus aculeatus Style Color Patterns
3. Burgundy stigma with light-yellow pollen and anthers.
In reviewing the pictures, I realized that the plant with third color pattern is Abelmoschus (Hibiscus) manihot and not Hibiscus aculeatus. Sometime this plant is incorrectly identified on the Internet as Hibiscus aculeatus. At one time Abelmoschu manihot was known as Hibiscus manihot. My apologies for not catching this error sooner.
Sometimes we miss the obvious, as I failed to note the significance of the Hibiscus aculeatus photograph you posted. Note the light-yellow color of the stigma at the tip of the style, with just a hint of burgundy colored pollen on the anthers.
The announcement of the death of my last Hibiscus aculeatus was premature. After my June 11, 2012 post, I discovered that one additional Hibiscus aculeatus had survived the construction about my home. I transplanted the Hibiscus to a 10” grower’s pot which was placed in a cement mixing tub with 4” to 5” of standing water, with other water loving Hibiscus. On September 3, 2012 the Hibiscus aculeatus bloomed and successfully set seeds after being hand pollinate with its own pollen. In the folowing URL note the burgundy color of the stigma and pollen laden anthers, at the tip and along the length of the style; the photograph is also attached below.
With your photograph, my photograph, the photographs in PlantFiles and the Internet, two color patterns are emerging for the reproduction structures of Hibiscus aculeatus.
Hibiscus aculeatus Style Color Patterns
1. Burgundy stigma with burgundy pollen and anthers.
2. Light-yellow stigma with burgundy pollen and anthers.
For color pattern #2 the petals are distinctly more yellow. For color pattern #1 the petals are white. I became interested in Hibiscus aculeatus because of it reported yellow petal color and limited cold tolerance. I was very disappointed when my Hibiscus aculeatus produced white flowers but I am now beginning to understand why. I believe there is a very real possibility of hybridizing Hibiscus aculeatus with the ornamental African Hibiscus radiatus and Hibiscus acetosella species to produce more cold tolerant hybrids.
Please keep me update on the plant hunt.
p.s. At some point we should move this discussion to the Hibiscus Forum.