Trail Notes: The Generosity of Rockrose
Rockrose—aka rose pavonia or Pavonia lasiopetala—is one of our most generous Texas natives. Not only does it keep blooming long into the summer, but it also produces an amazing number of seeds. SMGA members who have rockrose growing in their yards might think of collecting some of those seeds for planting along the trails.
A member of the mallow family, rockrose is a small shrub—3 to 6 feet—that can be found growing in dry, rocky woods from the Edwards Plateau south. It likes well-drained limestone soils and can thrive in either sun or light shade. It’s drought and cold tolerant, isn’t particularly attractive to deer, but provides food for hummingbirds and butterflies. Can you think of anything more appropriate for the Greenbelt?
If you’re lucky enough to have one or more of these plants in your garden and want to collect seeds for Team Flora to spread along the trails, the process is very easy. Once the bloom falls off, you’ll need to keep an eye on the seed pods to make sure you catch them at the right point in their maturation; collect them as soon as they turn brown, preferably before the pod darkens and splits. Given how successful these plants are in self-sowing, it’s hard to imagine that collecting the drier seed pods would actually be problematic. Harvesting them earlier, however, helps you avoid collecting crumbling pods along with the seeds.
Once you’ve collected all the seeds you want—feel free to spread some in your own garden while you’re at it—place them in a paper bag or envelope, never plastic. If you plan on using the seeds right away, this is all you need to do. But if you intend to store them for any period of time, you might want to add something to deter insects; the National Wildflower Center suggests using Sevin Dust, but it seems that a little diatomaceous earth would accomplish the same result. The seeds can be kept this way for up to two years.
When the time comes to sow the seeds, you can soak them in hot water to encourage germination, but this step isn’t necessary. In the wild, or in your garden, rockrose seed germinates quite easily; if you have one plant, you’re likely to have another, and another, and another. That said, the seed can be planted by covering it lightly with soil, or by simply broadcasting it.
If you collect rockrose seed and want to contribute it to SMGA, just get in touch with Team Flora leader Lance Jones. Any email sent to [email protected] will be forwarded to Lance.
Written by Susan Hanson, a member of the SMGA board and chair of the Outreach Committee.