Sphaeralcea ambigua – Desert Globemallow

Sphaeralcea ambigua - Desert Globemallow (red flower)

Sphaeralcea ambigua - Desert Globemallow (pink flower)

Sphaeralcea ambigua - Desert Globemallow (white flower)

Sphaeralcea ambigua - Desert Globemallow

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Sphaeralcea ambigua

Common Name: Desert Globemallow

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Subshrub, Herb/Forb

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert. This showy wildflower can often be seen blooming along roadsides, and it is also grown in xeriscape and wildflower gardens.

Flower Color: Red, Orange, Pink, Pinkish violet, White

Flowering Season: Spring, Summer. It has a long blooming season but blooms most heavily in the spring.

Height: To 40 inches (102 cm) tall

Description: The flowers are 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) across and have 5 fan-shaped, cupped petals and yellow to pink anthers. The flowers come in a wide variety of cultivated colors that have become naturalized here. The variable leaves have ruffled, scalloped edges and are tri-lobed, dull green in color, and 2 inches (5 cm) long. The leaves are covered in tiny hairs that can cause eye irritation if they are rubbed off and become airborne. The plants form large, rounded mounds of numerous stems.

The similar Emory's Globemallow (Sphaeralcea emoryi) has thickened, elongated, densely hairy, grayish green leaves, Fendler's Globemallow (Sphaeralcea fendleri) has longer, narrower, unruffled leaves and flowers with uncupped petals, and Caliche Globemallow (Sphaeralcea laxa) has flowers with dark maroon anthers and unruffled leaves.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Dilleniidae
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae – Mallow family
Genus: Sphaeralcea A. St.-Hil. – globemallow
Species: Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray – desert globemallow

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map