Plant of the Week: Neches River Mallow

The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. This week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.

We're lucky to have Hibiscus dasycalyx here on the High Line, as it is federally listed as a threatened species and grows in only three wetlands in eastern Texas. There are only about 2,000 individual plants in native populations. Known commonly as the Neches river mallow, this hibiscus has delicate, finely divided leaves on stems up to seven feet long. The burgundy-centered blooms are around five inches wide, with five creamy white petals; occasionally, a pink bloom occurs naturally. Its fuzzy calyx and mature seeds distinguish it visually from other native Hibiscus.

Found mostly in floodplains and wetlands exposed to full sun, Hibiscus dasycalyx is accustomed to at least one flooding per year, allowing it to sit in standing water early in the growing season. Drainage and filling of floodplain depressions and oxbows; roadside mowing and pesticide application; and stream channelization during highway construction have threatened native populations. Strategies for conservation include gene banking and strategic reintroduction of specimens to the wild.

On the High Line, you'll find it blooming from July through October, situated in the bog among cattails and alongside its cousin in the mallow family, Hibiscus moscheutos. Keep an eye out for its attractive buds and seedpods throughout the summer, fall, and winter.

As with any protected species, information should be sought before collecting seeds or specimens in the wild. Can be planted in full sun to partial shade and requires consistently moist soil.

Diller von Furstenberg Sundeck and Water Feature

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects – become a member of the High Line today!

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