Thursday, September 17, 2009
Poppymallow - Callirhoe papaver
Poppymallow (Callirhoe papaver) is a rather rare, but beautiful wildflower native to dry open hammocks in Alachua County and three counties of the central panhandle. Nationwide, it is found scattered across the southeast into Texas and in states just to the north of us.
As its name suggests, poppymallow is a member of the mallow family and is related to the hibiscus, saltmarsh mallow, and wild cotton. Its flowers look a bit like those of the oriental poppy, but true poppies are in a family quite different from the mallows.
Although rare in Florida, poppymallow is not a difficult plant to grow - or to propagate. This is a tough plant, so take care not to baby it. Plant poppymallow where it will get a high amount of light and in soils with good drainage. We grow ours in an area that gets direct sunlight for nearly 3/4'ths of the day, and they have prospered. During periods of extreme drought, we water ours a bit, but they have outlasted a number of other wildflowers native to our county that are also supposed to be drought tolerant.
Poppymallow is perennial, but deciduous in the winter months. Plants develop deep taproots designed to provide them with their drought tolerance. The lobed leaves arise on long stems that may be several feet long and they lay prostrate on the ground. In the spring and early summer, flower buds are formed in succession. Poppymallow produces solitary blooms of a rich wine color. Each flower is 2-3 inches across and lasts for just a few days.
Grow popymallow for the wonderful flowers which provide a wildflower garden with a color truly unique to the species. They are not particularly interesting to butterflies, but attract a variety of bees in our gardens. Pollinated flowers produce a good number of seeds which can be planted and grown to add more plants to your garden.
We have been growing this beautiful wildflower now for several years and try to keep a few dozen seedlings in stock each year. If you are looking for this species, and can't find it elsewhere, we may have a few here at Hawthorn Hill.