Kitaibelia vitifolia
Common Name: Russian hibiscus
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Malvaceae
Native Range: Balkans
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: White to light pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Easily grown in full sun to part shade. Best in moist but well-drained soils. Tolerates some soil dryness. May self-seed in the garden. Cut back plants in late fall.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Kitaibelia vitifolia, commonly known as chalice flower, cedar cup, vine-leaved kitaibelia, or Russian hibiscus, is a clump-forming, woody-based perennial of the mallow family that typically grows to 4-5’ tall but sometimes may tower to a substantial 8’ tall on rough white-haired stems clad with large, palmately-lobed, long-petioled leaves (to 7” long), each leaf having 5-7 sharp, triangular-pointed, coarsely-toothed lobes somewhat reminiscent of grape leaves (vitifolia meaning leaves of grape). Notwithstanding its Russian hibiscus common name, it is not a hibiscus and is not native to Russia. It is native to damp meadows, grassland and scrub from Slovenia to Macedonia (former parts of Yugoslavia). Cup-shaped, white to light pink, 5-petaled flowers (each to 2” across) bloom from the leaf axils from mid/late summer into fall (July-September). Each flower is open at the base of the cup, revealing showy underlying green sepals. Flowers are somewhat reminiscent of hollyhocks. Each petal is notched at the apex. Fruit is a schizocarp (dry indehiscent fruit).

Genus name honors Paul Kitaibel (1757-1817), Hungarian botanist.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin words vitis meaning grape and folius meaning leaf in reference to the grape-like leaves of this plant.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Dramatic garden specimen. Needs a large space (best for large gardens and parks). This is a coarse plant that is perhaps better suited for informal naturalized areas than formal garden areas. Uncommonly grown in U.S. gardens.