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Desert Globemallow
Sphaeralcea ambigua
About Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) Nurseries Show All Photos Sphaeralcea ambigua, commonly known as Desert Globemallow or Apricot Mallow, is a member of the genus Sphaeralcea in the mallow family (Malvaceae).

It is a perennial shrub native to parts of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona in the U.S.; 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,

The Sphaeralcea ambigua plant grows to 3 feet in height, and spreads to 2-4 feet in width. The leaves are fuzzy with white hairs on both sides, lobed, 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, apricot to dark orange red in color, and bloom in the spring. Three varieties; Sphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua, Sphaeralcea ambigua var. rosacea (flower more lavender) and Sphaeralcea ambigua var. rugosa.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
3 - 5 ft (0.9 - 1.5 m)

Max. Width
2 - 4 ft (0.6 - 1.2 m)

Upright, Rounded

Growth Rate


Flower Color
Orange, Lavender, Red, Pink

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Desert and semi-desert areas, often with boulders


Elevation ?
-222' - 10105'

Annual Precip. ?
2.2" - 40.7"

Summer Precip. ?
0.17" - 3.19"

Coldest Month ?
24.7° F - 63.6° F

Hottest Month ?
47.6° F - 90.6° F

Humidity ?
1.20 vpd - 48.86 vpd

Soil Description
Adaptable, but prefers fast draining desert soil

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Sodic Soil


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 15° F

Wildlife Attracted
Bees, Butterflies, Birds

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low, Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist


A good pruning after blooming will help to keep it from getting too woody

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment. Germination may be poor.

Common uses
Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Apricot Mallow, Desert Mallow, Deserthollyhock

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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