Scarlet Pentapetes

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Scarlet Pentapetes
Scarlet Pentapetes

Common Name: Scarlet Pentapetes[1]

Scientific Name: Pentapetes phoenicea

Jefferson sowed seed of this tender annual along his flower border in 1811, calling it "Scarlet Mallow."[2] He likely received seed from Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon, who noted the flower in his book, The American Gardener’s Calendar, 1806.

This plant has tender, ornamental, annual flowers with scarlet, mallow-like blossoms that open at noon and close at dawn. The foliage is a distinctive, olive green with serrated edges.


  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 445. Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello, 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 73.

Further Sources