The Assateague
Naturalist

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Marsh Mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica)

You'll see some of these plants along the Wildlife Loop (map) on the Assateague refuge.

In late July and August, the marsh mallow's pink blossoms (up to about two and a half inches) appear.

The stems and leaves of the marsh mallow are covered with minute, dense, hairs; the leaves are three lobed. The plant grows to about three feet.

Marsh mallow (sometimes called "seashore mallow") can be distinguished from rose mallow mainly by the leaves and the size of the flowers. The pink or white rose-mallow flowers grow to about seven inches in width and may have redish-purple coloring in the center of one species (Hibiscus moscheutos). And while one species of rose mallow (again Hibiscus moscheutos) often has three-lobed leaves on the lower portion of the plant, the upper leaves are ovate and pointed.

In colonial times, a confection (the original marshmallow) was made from the roots of the "true" marsh mallow plant, Althaea officinalis, which is not found on Assateague. The "marsh mallow" pictured here and rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) - which are found on Assateague - are species of the same family (Malvaceae - cotton is also in this family).

Marsh mallow is found from Long Island southward.

See also:
Chincoteague Natural History Association
- Would a Mallow by Any Other Name Taste So Sweet?

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