I’m sure you’ve seen it as you trek about the island – near the beaches and ponds. This image is of the swamp or marsh mallow that we have on Vestal Street in our garden out front of the Observatory. It can grow in drier places – though it’s not as lush as at Capaum Pond or out in Quaise. It’s in the Hibiscus family – and is fairly tropical looking and always a delight to see.
“When in bloom, one of the most showy plants of the Island, for a mass of the magnificent, large flowers on the edge of a blue pond causes one’s heart to thrill at the wealth of deep pink colour . . .” from Nantucket Wild Flowers, Alice O. Albertson (Shurrocks) (cousin of Maria Mitchell), 1921.
Here on Vestal Street in the wildflower garden in front of the Maria Mitchell Observatory, the Rose Mallow is in full bloom. It is such a tropical looking plant. It is in the Hibiscus family but is native to Nantucket. I remember as a child walking up the what then seemed to be a huge hill at the Black Water Tower Beach and looking out over the pond and seeing it all in bloom like a sea of pink. Today, you don’t just see it in the wild as, happily, people more and more are bringing native species into their gardens. So come take a look at the mallow here on Vestal Street and keep your eyes peeled as you venture in wet, sunny (near the ponds and marshes) areas where you can find it on island.