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Hibiscus trionum L.

Flower-of-an-hour, bladder hibiscus, bladder ketmia, bladder weed, modesty, puarangi, shoofly, venice mallow

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderMalvalesIncludes cacao, balsa, lime, linden, basswood, daphnes, hibiscus, hollyhocks, okra, baobab, cotton, kapok, and many others
FamilyMalvaceaeIncludes okra, jute, cacao, hibiscus, many others
GenusHibiscusAncient Greek and Latin name for some mallow-like plant
SpeciestrionumEither (1) from New Latin trionum derived from the Greek trionon, the name of a malvaceous plant; and (2) from Latin Triones, referring to Ursa Major or the Big Dipper. Probably (1)

About plant names...

Flower-of-an-hour is so named because its flowers open for only a few hours before wilting. It is a perennial in areas that don’t get any frost, but elsewhere it is an annual. They are native to Old World tropics and subtropics, but as a result of introduction to southern Europe and the United States, it is grown both as an ornamental and naturalized as a weed in those locations. It has a preference for well-lit cultivated or disturbed ground, or waste areas.

Plants: Plants are 8-20" (20-50 cm) high, rarely reaching 31" (80 cm). Stems are round and hairy.

Leaves: Alternate, dark green, up to 3" (7.6 cm) × 2" (5 cm), with three major lobes. Each lobe is further divided into shallower lobes, which may have dentate or crenate edges.

Flowers: White or pale yellow, with a deep purple center and five petals. Nestled in the center of the purple region are a cluster of 13 or more yellow-topped stamens. Flowers are up to 2" (5 cm) around. The purple coloration may be an example of iridescence created by diffraction gratings, though this is not confirmed. Few plants have evolved iridescent coloring, though it is fairly common among insects. (See Structural colour and iridescence in plants: the poorly studied relations of pigment colour for more information.) Flowers appear from July to August.

Fruits: Seeds are oval, and ⅜-1¼" (1-3.5 cm) long. They ripen from August to October.

Edibility: Technically, young leaves, shoots, and flowers are edible, but described as “mucilaginous” (slimy and sticky, for those of you who don't remember mucilage) and “with­out much flavor.”

Online References:

Illinois Wildflowers



The Missouri Botanical Garden



Hibiscus trionum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 24 Aug 2020.

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Hibiscus trionum (flower-of-an-hour, bladder hibiscus, bladder ketmia, bladder weed, modesty, puarangi, shoofly, venice mallow)

8/20/2020 · Vacant Lot, St. Cloud, Minn­esota · By Maruta Ray

Range: Zones 2-11:

About this map...