I first became acquainted with Turk’s Cap on my visits to Texas State Parks. The plant seemed to be everywhere I hiked or biked. Curious about this pretty plant with its distinctive red flowers, I sought out a park ranger to ask about it. Having visited Turkey, when I heard the name of the plant, it made sense. Here are five quick facts about this plant that earned a Texas Superstar plant designation in 2011 by Texas AgriLife Research.
1. Turk’s Cap is the perfect name for this hardy plant.
Turk’s Cap produces a profusion of bright red flowers that look like miniature Turkish turbans, hence the name. The plant was named by Scottish-born botanist and plant taxonomist Thomas Drummond in the early nineteenth century. Although Turk’s Cap is the more commonly known name, this plant is also known as Texas Mallow, Drummond’s Wax Mallow, Mexican Apple, Red Mallow, May Apple, Scotchman’s Purse, and Bleeding Heart.
2. Turk’s Cap is a South Texas native.
Turk’s Cap is a South Texas native but is also found in other parts of the great state of Texas. When planted in South Texas it becomes an established perennial. In the northern regions of the state it is the perfect annual for any garden. The perennial will die to the ground in winter but make its appearance again in early spring, presenting its flowers from late spring to as late as the first frost.
3. Turk’s Cap thrives in a variety of settings.
When it comes to climate and soils, Turk’s Cap is one versatile plant. This drought-tolerant beauty will grow in full sun or full shade. No problem! It can handle wet or dry soil, sandy soil or loam or clay, alkaline soil, and acid soil. Doesn’t matter! This plant has a Texas-tough disposition.
4. Turk’s Cap is attractive in more ways than one.
Turk’s Cap produces really attractive and distinctive flowers that are pleasing to the eye. These beautiful nectar-rich flowers, however, are also attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, making it the perfect addition to any home garden.
5. Turk’s Cap has medicinal qualities.
The leaves of the plant have been used as an emollient to treat inflammation, soothe itching, and soften skin. Mexicans used the flowers of the plant to treat digestive inflammation and as a menstrual aid. The flowers, either fresh or dried, can be used to make tea. Turk’s Cap also produces a small red fruit that is edible and resembles an apple, thus earning the plant the alias Mexican Apple.