Plant of the month 03/2020: Abelmoschus moschatus subsp. tuberosus

The flowers of Abelmoschus moschatus, very familiar as our group’s logo, are currently making a bright show on hillsides around Townsville, prompting nomination as our Plant of the Month.

Photo: John Elliott

These plants were almost invisible during our prolonged dry season but their hardy underground tubers (below) survive in a dormant state. They quickly sprout new growth with the onset of the wet season and have an impressive ability to find their own space amidst dense clusters of native grasses.

Photo: John Elliott

The local wild form of this species is a low-growing, trailing plant with usually watermelon-pink flowers. Its prolific flowering habit makes it an attractive addition to a sunny garden or large pot.

Photo: Julia Hazel

A different variety, also attractive but not of local provenance, can be seen in some Townsville gardens. It has taller, more erect stems and somewhat darker red flowers and was sold previously as a ‘native’ species. The true provenance of the more erect/red variety remains unknown.

See our species page for more details about Abelmoschus moschatus subsp. tuberosus.