Hibiscus moscheutos is a perennial herb, 1-2 m tall, stems usually in clumps, thick, finely gray-hairy, usually unbranched below inflorescence, often in small colonies from deep, ffibrous roots.
Leaves alternate, broadly ovate, toothed, sometimes lobed near tip, hairy below, rather dull green.
Flowers pink to white with red eye,10-20 cm wide, very showy, solitary, open for a single day, petals 5, with crepe-like texture, stamens yellow, joined into a central column around style, stigma at top, above stamens; inflorescence coarsely branched, flowers solitary, blooming one or few at a time; pollinated mainly by a bee specializing on Hibiscus (Ptilothrix bombiformus), (Spira et al. 1992); blooms and fruits July-Sept.
Fruit becoming dry, dark brown, a 5-parted, beaked, capsule above persistent, linear sepals, splitting to release numerous dark seeds, dispersed through winter, probably by water, open capsule persistent, blackish at tops of thick, naked, grayish stalks.
Wetland status: OBL.
Frequency in NYC: Occasional.
Habitat: Open marshes, fresh to brackish water, undisturbed wet ditches, pond edges. Tolerates brackish water.
Notes: Seeds often hollowed out by an insect larva that bores a hole in one side (Gargiullo, personal observation). This may be the weevil Conotrachelus fissunguis (search on bing.com for Conotrachelus fissunguis food plants and Hibiscus moscheutos insect seed predators).