Sida east, Sida hermaphrodita (L.) Rusby, or Virginia mallow, as this mallow family is also referred to, is native to North America and belongs, botanically, to perennials. This means that the plant, like Miscanthus, sprouts from the soil in April / May, reaches its final height of about 3 to 4 meters in midsummer, and then dies again above the ground in autumn. The plant dries completely and turns brown. The nutrients are thereby sent back to the roots and stored there until the next sprouting starts.

Virginia mallow, Sida hermaphrodita (L.) Rusby

Sida hermaphrodita (L.) Rusby

The rootstock consists of many meaty thickened single roots at the base and finer root-hair. Due to its ability to penetrate into deeper soil layers, Sida is still attractive on relatively dry locations (under 500-600 mm annual rainfall), as compared to other extensive energy plants. Among energy woods, only robinia, perhaps, may thrive under such conditions.

Sida is generally propagated by seed. Reproduction by division is potentially interesting in smaller areas; root cuttings, like those of Miscanthus, can mostly be an opportunity, too. From our current standpoint, we would not recommend extensive sowing, as it is now and then propagated, because of very different seed germination results.
The strong weed pressure, difficult chemical treatability and competitive weakness in the sprouting period (the 1st year) speak for planting more powerful rooted plants, i.e. seedlings.

The selected Sida plants are planted from April through May with standard planters at a distance of 0.75 x 0.75 to 0.9 x 0.9 meters. A denser planting has the advantage of faster ground contact and, thus, the suppression of weeds and the reduced dehydration. Root cuttings should be planted in larger numbers (about 40,000 pcs / ha), planting technique as for Miscanthus rhizomes, e.g. with potato planters.

Sida east base

Yield expectations differ very much, in different experts’ opinions. In practice, we suppose realistic a dry mass yield of 8-20 tons per hectare and year. This is an outstanding value for dry locations, but it has to be tested at various locations more precisely in the nearest future.

Another advantage of Sida, as compared to other extensive energy plants, is the utilization of harvested materials.
Being, just like as Miscanthus, harvested and, at the same time, chopped  with a rowless corn cutter, the chips do not contain ingredients that represent any danger to boilers. Only the low bulk density (even lower than in Miscanthus) requires a large-scale storage facility. Alternatively, the material can also be pressed into pellets and briquets. Harvesting usually takes place in late winter, before the new sprouting, since the water content drops sometimes by even 10% here, so the harvest is very easy to store.

Conclusion: In our view, Sida has an enormous potential due to its applicability in drier locations, on the one hand, and due to its relatively simple harvesting and usage, on the other hand, and represents another interesting option for the future, not the least because of diversification for extensive energy plants (keyword: Monocultures).

Sida hermaphrodita in winter