Desert Mallow: Sphaeralcea Ambigua

Desert Mallow  is the common name of Sphaeralcea ambigua, which is also referred to as the Apricot Mallow or the Desert Hollyhock. A member of the genus Sphaeralcea in the mallow family (Malvaceae), it is a perennial shrub native to the Mojave Desert as well as other parts of  California and  Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico in the United States and  Sonora and Baja California in Northwest Mexico. It grows well in alkaline soil, both sandy or clay, usually in the company of creosote bush scrub and desert chaparral habitats, from 490 feet to 8,200 feet in elevation.
The Sphaeralcea ambigua plant grows to three feet  in height, and spreads to two to three feet in width.
This perennial generally sports many one inch orange flowers on a two to three foot spike with gray, almost fuzzy foliage, though there are pinkish forms around Mojave most often in those places where the desert meets a pine forest, or oak or juniper woodland. The Desert Mallow, Desert Hollyhock or Apricot Mallow needs sun and good air flow.
The leaves are fuzzy with white hairs on both sides, lobed, palmately veined, and on long stems, the number of which increase with age. The fruit is a brown capsule containing numerous seeds, first quite spherical as implied by the genus name, later flattening to a disk. The flowers are bowl-shaped, 5-petaled, and most often apricot to orange in color. They begin to bloom in the spring and continue to bloom into the summer, as one of the most spectacular floral display of the desert.
Sphaeralcea ambigua’s foliage type is evergreen.
Although it is a desert plant  and does well in disturbed areas such as roadsides or gardens with little care, the desert mallow grows even better in a fertile soil and will really thrive if it is provided with liberal irrigation.
Sphaeralcea ambigua is larval food for the Northern White Skipper

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