©Hardy Hibiscus - 6"x6" oil on linen panel - $75
Despite its name, the deciduous flowering shrub we call rose of Sharon isn’t a rose at all. Native to Asia and India, this plant with exotic-looking blooms is actually a hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus), a member of the mallow family. Other common names include shrub althea, Chinese hibiscus and hardy hibiscus. Rose of Sharon is mentioned in the Old Testament, although scholars think that the reference, which appears in the Song of Solomon, is a mistranslation of a Hebrew word for crocus.
Shakespeare wrote, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and rose of Sharon, no matter what name you call it, is lovely. The large single or doubled flowers are often wavy-looking, giving the impression that they’re made of crepe paper. They open in late summer to fall, when few other shrubs are in bloom. Depending on the variety, the flowers may be violet, blue, pink, red, lavender, purple or white, and they often have a dark “eye” in the center.