Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Sphaeralcea ambigua, Desert Globemallow

Sphaeralcea ambigua, Desert GlobemallowSphaeralcea ambigua, Desert GlobemallowSphaeralcea ambigua, Desert GlobemallowSphaeralcea ambigua, Desert GlobemallowSphaeralcea ambigua, Desert Globemallow

Scientific Name: Sphaeralcea ambigua
Common Name: Desert Globemallow
Also Called: Apricot Globe-mallow, Apricot Mallow, Desert Mallow, Globe mallow, Sore-eye Poppy, (Spanish: Mal de Ojo, Malva)
Family: Malvaceae, Globe Mallow Family
Synonyms: ()
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 3 feet.
Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub; growth shrubby, herbage woolly (canescent), stems erect and or sprawling.
Leaves: Green, yellow-green; leaf shape variable, 3 lobed, lobes weak or absent, cordate, margins wavy, scalloped (crenate).
Flower Color: Apricot, orange, orange-red, apricot-orange, pink, purplish-pink; flowers semi-large in clusters on tips of weak hanging stems, fruit a schizocarp with 9 or more segments each containing 2 seeds.
Flowering Season: January to December with sufficient rainfall, February to November in Texas.
Elevation: Below 3,500 feet in Arizona, 500 to 7,500 feet in California.

Habitat Preferences: Dry rocky slopes and edges of sandy washes, clay soils, alkaline soils, prefers creosote bush scrub and desert chaparral communities.

Recorded Range: Desert Globemallow is found in the southwest United States in; AZ, CA, NV and UT. In Arizona it occurs in the western 23 and northeast parts of the state. It is also found throughout Baja California and northwestern Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Sphaeralcea ambigua.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: 26 species in Sphaeralcea in the western half of North America. 17 species in Arizona, 14 species in New Mexico, 8 species in California and 12 species in Texas.

4 sub-species in Sphaeralcea ambigua:
Sphaeralcea ambigua subsp. ambigua, Apricot Globemallow, (AZ, CA, NV, UT);
Sphaeralcea ambigua subsp. monticola, Desert Globemallow, (CA, NV, UT);
Sphaeralcea ambigua subsp. rosacea, Rose Globemallow, (AZ, CA);
Sphaeralcea ambigua subsp. rugosa, Desert Globemallow, (CA).

The Plant List includes 170 scientific plant names of species rank for the genus Sphaeralcea. Of these 53 are accepted species names.

Comments: The species epithet for Desert Globemallow "ambigua" is a reference to the leaf shape which is extremely variable and compounded with 4 similar sub-species. The same is true for multiple flower colors.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Scarlet Globemallow, Sphaeralcea coccinea; Coulter's Globemallow, Sphaeralcea coulteri; Fendler’s Globemallow, Sphaeralcea fendleri; and Rusby's Globemallow, Sphaeralcea rusbyi.

Desert Globemallow been used as an external anti-rheumatic drug, a cathartic, cold remedy and contraceptive by the Shoshone (Shoshoni) Native American tribe. See ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

Date Profile Completed: 11/29/2015, updated format 09/28/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 11/27/2015).
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 11/27/2015]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: (accessed 11/27/2015),5133,5134
Wikipedia contributors, 'Sphaeralcea ambigua', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 November 2015, 17:35 UTC, [accessed 27 November 2015]
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names, recorded geographic locations and general information