Sphaeralcea ambigua Desert Globemallow
PERENNIAL. Tall leafy stems are crowded with bright salmon orange
flowers, 2-3 cm in diameter. Anthers yellow (not maroon). Flowering
stems many, nearly white, semi-woody. Flowers are occasionally pink
or pale lavender, especially at lower elevations. Blooms in March-May,
sometimes again in late summer after rains. Leaves slightly fuzzy,
triangular or arrowhead-shaped, with many small wavy or crinkled lobes.
Compared to other Sphaeralcea, leaves are larger and more variable
in size and shape on a single plant. The largest Sphaeralcea
in the Empires, occasional on flat gravel and disturbed ground in desertscrub
at low elevations. The pink form is rare in the Empires but common
in the lower desert. This species is often cultivated in desert gardens.
FAMILY: Malvaceae (Mallow Family)
Sphaeralcea is easily recognized as a genus, since most
species have similar salmon-colored flowers and lobed, fuzzy leaves with
prominent veins. A few are easy to identify but several of the larger
species are very similar and often highly variable, especially in leaf
size and shape. They may require all information - flowers, leaves,
mature fruits, growth habit, and habitat/elevation - for identification.