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Photo credit: Greg Wieland

Neches River rose-mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx) | ESA status: threatened

Neches River rose-mallow

One of the rarest plants in East Texas, the Neches River rose-mallow needs all the help it can get to avoid extinction.

Neches River rose-mallow facts

The Neches River rose-mallow is a shrubby perennial that grows from three to seven feet tall. Like other hibiscus, it produces large, showy flowers. Each blossom is three to six inches wide, with five two- to four-inch-long creamy-white petals and a deep red or purple center. The flower grows in wetland areas exposed to open sun.

Neches River rose-mallow habitat

The Neches River rose-mallow is present in four Texas counties: Cherokee, Houston, Harrison, and Trinity. Most remaining plants grow at four sites on the Davy Crockett National Forest. Occupied sites typically hold standing water for much of the growing season and are generally within the immediate floodplains of rivers or adjacent to ponds, sloughs, and oxbows.

What are the threats to the Neches River rose-mallow?

Unfortunately, habitat loss and degradation have reduced this plant’s habitat to just a few small areas that support no more than a few thousand individuals. It must compete with Chinese tallow, a nonnative tree species, for space, light, and nutrients. Its wetland habitat is threatened by development and stream channelization. Herbicides are a danger to seven of the existing 11 populations. Climate change is expected to alter habitat conditions for the plant, and drought is already affecting habitat quality and reproductive success.

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