Physocarpus malvaceus “Mallow Ninebark” Rosaceae

Mt. Sentinel, Lolo National Forest, MT
September 12, 2015
Robert Niese

Ninebark is one of those plants I only begin noticing in the fall when their leaves turn scarlet. In the summer they briefly bloom small white flowers, but their petals quickly drop, leaving behind a green-red calyx that is easy to overlook. Along with the fact that these rosaceous plants don’t produce edible fruits (dry follicles, as you can see here), Physocarpus is a very underappreciated member of our dry Ponderosa Pine forests. But it plays a critical role in these fire-prone ecosystems and is a hardy pioneer species following all kinds of disturbances.

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