The genus Pavonia is one of the most abundant genera (more than 200 species) in the Malvaceae, and most of the species are native to North and South America (Fryxell, 1999). Although numerous species exist, only a few have been used as ornamental plants, such as P. hastata in Australia (Mitchell, 1982) and P. lasiopetala in Texas (Nokes, 1986). Pavonia lasiopetala is a small shrub native to Texas and northern Mexico, inhabiting dry, rocky landscapes (Fig. 1A). Pavonia missionum is a perennial shrub native to South America in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay (Fryxell, 1999) (Fig. 1B). Pavonia lasiopetala is native to central Texas; thus, plants can survive in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zone 7b (U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, 2012). Pavonia missionum has been observed to reseed and come back every year (John Ruter, personal observation) at Tifton, GA [USDA hardiness zone 8b (U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, 2012)].
Pavonia missionum belongs in subgen. Pavonia, sect. Pavonia, subsect. Hastifoliae, whereas P. lasiopetala is in subgen. Pavonia, sect. Pavonia, subsect. Exsertae (Fryxell, 1999). The base chromosome number for the genus Pavonia is n = 7. Pavonia missionum is an octoploid (2n = 8x = 56), whereas the chromosome number for P. lasiopetala is unknown (Fryxell, 1999). Both species prefer full sun to partial shade. The leaf bases are usually cordate with dentate margins for P. lasiopetala and cordate with crenate to serrate margins for P. missionum, and the apexes are acute for both species. The leaf blades are ovate to ovate-triangular with occasionally three to five lobes (no lobe for P. lasiopetala) (Fryxell, 1999). The leaf of P. lasiopetala is moderate to heavily stellate pubescent (Fig. 2A and B). The adaxial leaf surface of P. missionum is heavily glandular-pubescent with appressed hairs, and the lower side of the leaf is sparsely pubescent with stellate and simple hairs (Fig. 2C and D). Both species have solitary flowers with staminal columns and five petals. Pavonia lasiopetala has five pink petals that slightly overlap, whereas P. missionum has five separate orange-red petals. The two species can be used as ornamental plants as a result of their heat and drought tolerance, and their attraction of pollinators (Quinn and Klym, 2009). A new interspecific hybrid with reduced fertility, which carries the two species’ desired ornamental traits, would be ideal for developing new cultivars. Thus, the interspecific hybrid P. ×rufula was developed by crossing P. lasiopetala (♀) and P. missionum (♂). Pavonia ×rufula is an attractive perennial shrub with red or red-purple flowers and reduced fertility.
We thank Vickie Waters for her assistance with this research.
Menzel, M.Y., Fryxell, P.A. & Wilson, F.D. 1983 Relationships among new world species of Hibiscus section Furcaria (Malvaceae) Brittonia 35 204 221 doi: 10.2307/2806016
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