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U.S. Forest Service

Desert Rosemallow (Hibiscus coulteri)

Map of Arizona. Counties are colored green where the species may be found. Hibiscus coulteri range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Desert rosemallow flower. Desert rosemallow flower. Photo by M. Falk.

Desert rosemallow plant. Desert rosemallow plant. Photo by M. Falk.

Desert rosemallow immature fruit. Desert rosemallow immature fruit. Photo by M. Falk.

Who would guess that there is native Hibiscus in Arizona? Hibiscus plants are usually associated with Hawaii and the ornamental species grown for their beautiful tropical foliage and flowers. These native species are no less beautiful, especially since they thrive in the seemingly hot foothills of the mountains. This is another sub-tropical species that thrives with summer rainfall.

The plants are small, delicate sub-shrubs, reaching a height of 3 to 4 feet (often smaller). They are perennial, but die back during the winter.

The flowers are yellow or cream, with five petals, often with a reddish ring at the base of the flowers. The leaves are alternate, hairy, and three-lobed. The plant is relatively inconspicuous unless it is blooming. Desert rosemallow is found in southern Arizona, western Texas, and Mexico.