October 22, 2017

In the Faraway Levant

Hibiscus trionum - Flower of the Hour

Janine Pineo Photo | Hibiscus trionum – Flower of the Hour

You know a plant has some history when the descriptions say it is an Old World flower. Such is the case with Hibiscus trionum, also called Flower of the Hour, bladder hibiscus and venice mallow, to name but a few monikers gracing this delicate but stately blossom. Growing up to 24 inches tall, the plants are topped with creamy white flowers sporting black (deep purple) and yellow centers. The bladder part comes from the bud and seedhead stages, which are remarkably similar at certain points in their development (see the photograph for an example). So what has this got to do with Levant? We don’t mean Maine’s very own, but a place called the Levant, a term first seen in English in 1497.  It is a region in the eastern Mediteranean, where western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and northeast Africa meet. And it is the region where Flower of the Hour originated. The plant may have good staying power, but the flower does not. After a few hours, the blossom fades.

This week we are featuring heirlooms grown by The Heirloom Garden of Maine in Montville.