AZ Arboretums

Sphaeralcea ambigua

Globe mallow

Common:  Globe Mallow, Desert Mallow
Family:   Malvaceae
Origin/Range: southwest US; officially to elevation of 3500ft, but known to naturalize up to 5000ft or more
Light:  Full sun
Hardy below 32°F

Water:  Little water when established, good drainage
Soil: Tolerant, good drainage

Shrubby perennial, up to 30 inches tall (75cm), 30 inches spread (75 cm).

Although it is a desert plant, the desert mallows grow better in a fertile soil. Provided that he soil is well drained, it needs regular water the first year, particularly if it has not been planted in the fall. Planting it in the fall allows it to grow its root system before the punishing heat of Phoenix summer.

The coral flowers of the desert mallow come in summer to fall. They are mallow like with 5 petals. Leaves are gray-green, pubescent, deeply lobed; number of lobes varies (usually 3-5) as does serration.

A number of people are allergic to the Desert Mallow, for this reason it is often called "Hierba Muy Mala" in Spanish. There are over 10 different species of Sphaeralcea in the Southwest with varying flower color and leaf shape.