Saturday, July 10, 2010

Now THIS is a plant!

A ditch full of the spectacular Virginia Mallow, Sida hermaphrodita. This thing is a doozy; a must-see for anyone who likes plants. It's rather rare as well, and once was studied as a possible candidate for federal listing. In Ohio, it occurs right along the Ohio River, and where it is found the plant is often plentiful.

Another common name is "Virginia Fanpetals".


What a terrible name. Whoever came up with that, maybe Richard Simmons, I don't know, deserves to have his 8th edition of Gray's Manual of botany confiscated for keeps.

Your blogger acts as a human measuring stick, revealing the enormous stature of this mallow. I'm 6'1"; the mallow can reach 12'. I once gave a root to someone, and the plant did just fine in his yard. Freed of the competition of the wild, it thrust skyward nearly 20 feet, and was the oddest and most interesting plant in the entire neighborhood, if you ask me.

Lest you berate me for unearthing this specimen, it too is going to a good home. And there was TONS of it where this came from. It's worth experimenting a bit with little known natives such as Virginia Mallow in a garden setting to learn more about how they behave, and see how people react to them.

Very cool leaves indeed. They look like some sort of whacked out maple. Or... Cannabis sativa.

I wonder how many mind-expanding botanical illiterati have tried to light this stuff up. I can just hear the lucky discoverers: "Like wow, man, check this patch of ditch-weed, man. C'mon dude, let's twist one and do it up, man..." And I wonder what the effects are? I have snacked on my fair share of native plants, and am keenly interested in their values, both as food and medicine, but draw the line at smoking stuff.

But I would love to know.

If you have ever confused Virginia Mallow with Marijuana and tried to smoke it, please report what happened. I'm sure we would all be interested.

The creamy-white flowers of Virginia Mallow are quite showy, like most members of the Malvaceae, which includes showstoppers like Hibiscus. But given the incredible size of the plants and the abundance of the robust foliage, the blooms are rather overwhelmed and look almost like an afterthought that someone glued to the summit of the plant.


Cathy said...

I do enjoy the way you can take a big stalk of vegetation and spin an amusing, interesting post.

Sorry I can't give you an assist on it's combustible characteristics.

Jim McCormac said...

Thank you, Cathy! But Sida hermaphrodita is much more than a jumbo stalk of vegetation, and I could have had all kinds of fun with the hermaphrodite angle but, in an unusual fit of maturity, didn't go there!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

It is Virginia fanpetals (Virginia sida, Virginia mallow) combustion HHV 18,7. It is the future crop for bioenergy/biomass (20 odt/ha/yr). We research this crop since 1950-60. An ideal crop! Recently I works with Kevin Triemstra to make Sida recognized among professionals from USA pellets and thermal industries.
Best regards

Kevin Triemstra
Minneapolis Biomass Exchange
1624 Harmon Pl, Suite 304
Minneapolis, MN 55403