Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Type Information

Isosyntype for Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray
Catalog Number: US 12517
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): E. Ives
Locality: Canyon of the Colorado., Arizona, United States, North America
  • Isosyntype: Gray, A. 1887. Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts. 22: 292.
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Holotype for Sphaeralcea macdougalii Rose & Standl.
Catalog Number: US 574253
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): D. T. MacDougal
Year Collected: 1907
Locality: Pinacate Mts., Papago Tanks., Sonora, Mexico, North America
  • Holotype: Rose, J. N. & Standley, P. C. 1912. Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 16: 13.
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Persistence: PERENNIAL

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

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Wikipedia

Sphaeralcea ambigua

Detail of globe-like seed capsules
S. ambigua leaves, closeup

Sphaeralcea ambigua, commonly known as Desert Globemallow or Apricot Mallow, is a member of the genus Sphaeralcea in the mallow family (Malvaceae).[1]

It is a perennial shrub native to parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico in the U.S.; and Sonora and Baja California in Northwest Mexico.[1][2] It grows well in alkaline soil, both sandy or clay, usually in the company of creosote bush scrub and desert chaparral habitats, from 150–2,500 metres (490–8,200 ft) in elevation. It is found in the Mojave Desert, Great Basin deserts, and Sonoran Desert ecoregions.[2]

Description[edit]

The Sphaeralcea ambigua plant grows to 3 feet (0.91 m) in height, and spreads to 2–3 feet (0.61–0.91 m) in width.[3] The leaves (see lower left image) 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 (see top left image). The flowers are bowl-shaped, 5-petaled, apricot to orange in color, and bloom in the spring.[2]

Varieties[edit]

Sphaeralcea ambigua has eight to nine named varieties.[4]

They include:
  • Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray var. ambigua [5]
  • Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray var. aculeata Jeps. (synonym for S. a. var. ambigua) [6]
  • Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray var. rosacea (Munz & I.M. Johnst.) Kearney [7]
  • Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray var. rugosa (Kearney) Kearney [8]

Uses[edit]

The plant was used by members of the Shoshoni tribe of Native Americans as a food source and medicinal plant.[9]

Cultivation[edit]

Sphaeralcea ambigua is cultivated as an ornamental plant by specialty plant nurseries for use in desert and drought tolerant gardens, and a native plant its desert region's natural landscaping and habitat restoration projects.[3]

Cultural Requirements [3]
  • Exposure: full sun
  • Water: natural rainfall; supplemental water will increase flowering
  • Soil: desert soil, tolerant of some clay, prefers good drainage
  • Propagation: easy by seed; tricky by vegetative cuttings, best results from first flush of new spring growth
  • Maintenance: low, periodically cut back to keep vegetative look

References[edit]

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