Hibiscus pic

Hibiscus moscheutos var. lasiocarpos (Crimson-eyed rosemallow) in the wet Cajun Prairie Gardens.


2jul 2013

Physostegia digitalis (Finger false dragonhead or Obedient plants) at the Cajun Prairie Restoration Project in Eunice.


jun 81 jeff davis roadside

Finger false-dragonhead along a roadside.

June is a 4 to 5 foot tall prairie with some areas reaching 6 feet. June begins as an extension of the May blooms, and it takes a week or so to take on its own personality. Hibiscus explodes in the wet prairie. Extraordinary blooms of 5-6 inches and varying from red to white. Two species, Texas star (Hibiscus coccinea) and our common species, Crimson-eyed rosemallows (Hibiscus moscheutos lasiocarpus), occur in the prairie ecosystem. Kosteletskya virginiana (Seashore mallow) blooms in mid-June and sporadically until September—it is a marsh plant and uncommon in prairie wet areas; however, it is a great garden plant. Texas star and Seashore mallow in my garden are from a backwater of the Calcasieu River near Westlake, LA, where Avery Williams guided me to a beautiful marshy area, where not only these flourished but also a huge population of Physostegia intermedia—the Spring-bloomer. Physostegia digitalis blooms in the dry prairie and creates a beautiful show in June and early July.

Mid-month is the beginning of the blooming of Physostegia digitalis (Finger false dragonhead or Obedient plant). This extraordinary bloomer is unmistakable. As the most common of the summer-blooming Obedient plants (there are 3 others that bloom in the summer), an estimated 5000 plants bloom in the Cajun Prairie Restoration Project in Eunice, with maximum bloom around the 1st of July. Nearly a hundred plants are found in the Cajun Prairie Gardens. This particular Obedient plant prefers drier areas, while others prefer wetter sites.

The Hibiscus and Physostegia make such a great show in June that it is worthwhile to examine more closely their blooming regimen in a table. Both maximize their bloom at the end of June and the beginning of July, marking mid-year in the garden.

Table 1. Blooming of Hibiscus moscheutos lasiocarpus (in the wet prairie) and Physostegia digitalis (in the dry prairie) for the year 2015 in the Cajun Prairie Gardens as a percent head count of number of plants flower on a particular day. There are about 500 Hibiscus and 100 Physostegia in the gardens. Note that sporadic blooms occur on plants during the rest of July, with some Hibiscus reblooming in September (especially if cut back after blooming).

Day (2015) Hibiscus Physostegia
7-Jun 2% 0%
9-Jun 5 0
11-Jun 20 2
16-Jun 50 10
18-Jun 75 20
21-Jun 95 50
25-Jun 100 70
30-Jun 70 90
1-Jul 60 60
6-Jul 20 30
8-Jul 10 20
15-Jul 5 5

Ipomoea sagittata (Saltmarsh morning-glory).

The wet marsh also is home to Ipomoea sagittata (Saltmarsh morning-glory) with violet flowers and Ludwigia spp. with bright yellow flowers, both spreading vigorously and vining among the Hibiscus. These plants will bloom until September.


Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (Narrowleaf mountainmint) in the Cajun Prairie Gardens.



Pycnanthemum muticum (White-clustered mountainmint).

The mints, Pycnanthemum muticum and P. tenuifolium (Mountain mints) companion the last of the blooming Monarda lindheimeri and M. fistulosa (Bee balms) to add to the blooms of the Physostegia. The mints generally prefer drier prairie sites, but they are not as picky as the later blooming species, P. albescens and M. punctata. All of these mints smell great and taste good or they taste like medicine. Crushing leaves and smelling them is a gret past-time, but during June, the blooms add significant white to the color spectrum in the dry prairie. The later blooming species are more yellow in color and make themselves noticeable in August.

jun 2013

Monarda spp. (Bee balms) and Rudbeckia grandiflora (Rough coneflower) in the Cajun Prairie Restoration Project in Eunice.

The peas, Tephrosia (Hoarypeas) and Chamaescrista (aka Cassia) (Partridge peas), bloom massively. Black-eyed susans, Rudbeckia hirta and R. grandifolia, maximize their blooms. Gaura lindheimeri (Lindheimer’s beebalm) reaches max bloom, but continues to bloom into the autumn. These all inhabit the drier areas.


Crinum americanum (American swamp lily).

Crinum americanum (American swamp lily) and Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush) bloom. Other plants that like wet areas, including Thalea dealbata (Powdery thalia) and Canna spp., also bloom. The vining Saltmarsh morning-glory (Ipomoea sagittata) springles purple blooms among the Hibiscus.



Groups of Silphium gracile (Slender rosinweed) dot the prairie gardens.

Silphium gracile (Rosinweed) provides maximum bloom, while S. laciniatum (Compass plant) begins to shoot up to 6-8 feet and readies to begin blooming near the end of the month.


Plantanthera nivea.

Mid-June is the onset of bloom for Platanthera nivea (Snowy orchid). Whereas this orchid blooms profusely in savannahs of western Louisiana, it is rare in the Cajun Prairie. I found and photographed a single specimen in bloom just north of the intersection of Hwy 165 and Interstate 10 along a Jefferson Davis Parish railroad right-of-way remnant prairie seepage area. Like many of the orchids, one walks right over them all year long as they typically have grass-like leaves that blend into the maze of grasses. Only when the blooms appear are the plants obvious, and in this case a really obvious bright white spire of blooms.


Coreopsis tripteris (Tall tickseed) shoots to 6 going on 7 feet.

Coreopsis tripteris, a true giant tickseed, reaches 6-8 feet in height and readies for blooming. Asclepias lanceolata (the prairie’s red milkweed that loves wetter areas) and other milkweeds continue blooming. Eryngium yuccifolium (Rattlesnake master) prepares for a magnificent show in July.


jun87 fenton

A view of the South Fenton remnant prairie in June of 1988. The large circles of grasses in the background are mostly Big Bluestem, while the foreground is dotted with blooms of Rough coneflower.



The bright pink Crimson-eyed rosemallow is called Cajun Prairie Twilight by Marc Pastorek.


What was blooming in the Cajun Prairie Gardens on June 1, 2015?

  • Tradescantia spp.
  • Scutellaria integrifolia
  • Silphium gracile
  • Asclepias tuberosa
  • Asclepias perennis
  • Asclepias lanceolata
  • Gaura lindheimeri
  • Callirhoe papaver
  • Orbexilum psoralioides
  • Asclepias viridis
  • Phlox pilosa
  • Allium canadense
  • Echinacea pallida
  • Rudbeckia hirta
  • Coreopsis tinctoria
  • Mimosa hystricina
  • Crinum americanum
  • Ludwigia sp.
  • Ruellia spp.
  • Euphorbia corallata
  • Conoclinium coelestinum
  • Tephrosia onabrychoides
  • Monarda fistulosa
  • Monarda lindheimeri
  • Rudbeckia texana
  • Rudbeckia grandifolia
  • Asclepias verticillata
  • Spiranthes spp.
  • Sabatia spp.
  • Hypericum spp.
  • Thalea dealbata
  • *Hibiscus moscheutos lasiocarpus
  • Ipomoea sagittata
  • Canna spp.
  • Rhexia mariana
  • Lythrum lineare
  • Cephalanthus occidentalis
  • Galactea volubilis
  • Erythrina herbacea
  • Gaillardia aestivalis
  • Helenium spp.
  • Verbena halei
  • Lippia sp.

*first blooms apparent.


Posted by M. F. Vidrine 020316 (malcolmvidrine@yahoo.com)


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