I had never seen a Confederate Rose until we moved to Georgetown,
and I think it is one of the prettiest flowers I've ever seen.
The Confederate Rose, or hibiscus mutablis, is a Chinese import, brought from England in the 1600s.
It became important in the hearts and gardens of Southerners during the hard days of the Civil War
because it was so easy to propagate.
Stick a cutting in the ground and you had
a plant to share with a neighbor.
Also called the Cotton Rose, the bush produces white flowers. Over the course of the two days a blossom lives,
it gradually turns from white to pink, and pink to nearly red, and then falls off the bush. A member of the hibiscus family, its changing color is reflected in the second part of its scientific name, mutablis.
At the time of the Civil War a legend developed around the way the flower changes color. It goes like this.
A soldier, fatally wounded in battle, fell upon the roots of a rose as he lay dying.
As the young man's blood flowed from his wound, more and more was absorbed by the blooming bush, causing the flowers to gradually change
from white to pink to red.
When he died, the flowers did, too, falling to the ground around the soldier.
After the 'War of Northern Aggression' was over, the bush was planted widely on soldiers' graves in Southern cemeteries.
In this bush you can see the light and dark pink flowers that will fall off by morning and be replaced by opening white buds. Each blossom is about six inches across.
Neither a rose nor a native, the beautiful Confederate Rose
is an immigrant,
just like many of us who now call the South 'home'.