Federal and State Listed Species of Texas:
Texas ayenia grows in south Texas in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties, as well as in northern Mexico in Coahuila, Durango, and Tamaulipas.
Texas ayenia is a 1.5 m tall, thornless shrub with heart-shaped leaves that have saw-toothed edges. Older stems of Texas ayenia have rust-colored spots, which are variable in shape (round to linear). Arising from the stem at the same point as the 3.5-12.5 cm long by 2-7.5 cm wide leaves, the small, yellowish-green flowers hang in clusters of three (rarely four). Petals are U-shaped with the base of the U attached to the flower. The small round fruits are prickly and have five lobes, which break apart into five sections when the fruit dries.
Hairy ayenia (Ayenia pilosa) is much smaller (10-20 cm tall), has reddish, triangular petals, and two different leaf shapes (lower leaves are more round and upper leaves are more egg-shaped). Texas ayenia can be distinguished from other similar-appearing mallows by its prickly, 5-sectioned fruit, and the reddish-brown spots on its older stems. If flowers are present, these species can easily be differentiated from one another.
This plant can be found on well-drained soils in subtropical thorny woodlands and tall shrublands of the Rio Grande delta.
Life Cycle Events
Flowering can occur throughout the year with adequate rainfall.
As a woody perennial, Texas ayenia can be recognized year-round, although identification may be easier when flowers and or fruits are present.