Its silky black-purple flowers set this plant apart: Beautiful wine-stained black blooms with paler star-shaped centers appear on towering spikes that can become 2.5m (8ft) tall. Lends a high-drama effect to any mixed sunny border. Said to have been grown by Thomas Jefferson in his garden at Monticello. A low-care plant, it is hardy across a wide range of zones, and self-seeds to come back year after year. An excellent choice for xeriscaping, it prefers full sun and well-drained soil. A good choice for hummingbird, bee and butterfly gardens. Young leaves and flowers are edible, and can be added to salads for colour and interest. The blooms give a lovely, deep rose-purple colour to herbal teas. Like other members of the mallow family, it helps soothe irritated mucous membranes.