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David Beaulieu

African Rose Mallow

By November 7, 2012

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Of African rose mallow (Hibiscus acetosella), Marie Iannotti writes that "newer varieties have been bred to have deeply lobed, finely cut leaves like Japanese maples. You'll find shades of green with red veining through to a deep burgundy." A hibiscus grown for its foliage rather than for its flowers: it's an interesting switch, isn't it?. In fact, About's Gardening Guide observes that the flowers of African rose mallow are "incidental" and that "some of the newer cultivars don't flower at all."

OK, perhaps at this point you're musing, "If I want a Japanese maple, why not buy a real one, rather than substituting with a hibiscus?" Which reminds me of a joke I heard about how people tend to promote exotic meats as tasting "like chicken"; the punch line being, "So why not just eat chicken, instead?" In this case, though, there is a good argument, sometimes, for growing African rose mallow rather than Japanese maple. Says Marie: "Hibiscus acetosella makes a nice focal point, where a Japanese maple might be too large."

Related resource: Hardy Hibiscus

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