The Turk’s Cap derives its name from the fact its flower resembles a Turkish fez.
Flowers are typically red, but also come in white and pink. The broad petals remain closely wrapped and never fully open, forming a spiral arrangement, which causes the bloom to resemble a partially open hibiscus bloom, hence one nickname of “sleepy hibiscus.”
The stamens are fused together by filaments to form a tube through which the pistil (style) pass and extend beyond the petals, enticing hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.
Fruits are green when immature and ripen to a red apple like fruit about 1 inch wide.
Fresh seeds can be planted, but you have to be quick and get to them before the birds do. Deadhead only if you don’t want volunteer propagation next year.
The leaves are alternate and about 3-5 inches long and about the same in width. The leaf has coarse hair above and is soft and velvety underneath.
This plant is propagated by dividing the rootball, from cuttings or from seed. Once established, it will reseed itself each year.
Turk’s cap prefers well drained and fertile soils, but will adapt to most soils and water requirements. Sun or part sun will provide the healthiest growth and flower production, but it seems to prefer afternoon shade.
Turk’s cap is a low maintenance plant requiring minimum water and fertilizer. It is affected by very few diseases and pests and is found in many Texas gardens.
Scientific name: Malvaviscus arboreus (many variations).
Common name: wax mallow, Turk’s cap.
USDA hardiness zones: Perennial shrub in zone 9b-11, annual in zone 8.
Origin: Native to Mexico and Texas.
Light requirements: Full sun to partial shade, does better with afternoon shade.
Water demand: Average. Water regularly. Do not over water.
Drought tolerance: Medium – will adapt.
Height: 2-4 feet in shade, up to 8 feet in sun.
Deciduous/evergreen: Evergreen shrub in Mexico and the valley, otherwise it is an annual.
The Carolina buckthorn is an extremely versatile tree and is perfect as an understory tree or stands on its own whether in full shade or full sun.
It can be used as a small tree or a large shrub and planted in mass to form a thicket to provide food and cover for a variety of wildlife.
It can tolerate most any soil, including clay, loam, sand, shallow and rocky, acidic or alkaline, but does prefer well drained soil.
The bright green deciduous leaves, 2 to 4 inches in length, change to an orange or red in the fall before dropping.
It sometimes retains many of its leaves year round when in full shade and a mild winter. The leaf arrangement is alternate, type is simple, margin is serrulate, shape is elliptic or oblong and venation is pinnate.
Flowers are very small, greenish-white, appearing in late spring May through June, and attract butterflies.
It produces small fruits about one third of an inch in diameter that start off pink, then turn red and later black.
One nickname for this tree is Indian cherry.
The berries are thickest on trees in partial to full sun and attract wildlife, such as many birds and raccoons, and are suitable for human consumption.
This tree requires little maintenance and is typically not affected by pests.
Thr tree propagates easily from seeds when you pick the berries and spread them through the forest area in late fall. You will see seedlings in the spring.
Scientific name: Rhamnus caroliniana.
Common name: Carolina buckthorn.
USDA hardiness zones: 5B through 9.
Origin: Native to North America and Texas.
Light requirements: Full sun to full shade.
Water demand: Low-medium.
Drought tolerance: High.
Height: To 25 feet,
Rick Daniel is an Ellis County Master Gardener and a regular contributor to the Waxahachie Daily Light.