Desert Five-Spot

Eremalche rotundifolium
(formerly Malvastrum rotundifolium)

Desert Five Spot, photo by Lara Hartley


Mojave and Sonoran deserts of southeastern California, southern Nevada and western Arizona below 4,000 feet.


Dry, open desert bajadas, washes and flats.


Pink to purple globes with 5 petals open at the top bloom March through May. Inside, the center is creamy with 5 deep, purple blotches surrounding many stamens. The 5 "spots" actually occur at the base of each petal. Flowers open in the afternoon and close at night.


The desert five-spot is one of the most beautiful flowers that grows in the desert. This annual herb, a member of the Mallow family (Malvaceae), grows 4 to 24 inches high. Its sparse leaves are round to heart-shaped, with scalloped margins up to 2 inches wide. The color of the leaves is green and often red with short, bristly hairs.

When light passes through the delicate petals of the flower, the globe resembles a glowing lantern. For this reason, the desert five-spot is also known as the lantern flower and Chinese lantern.

Desert Five-Spot

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone. iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photos tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...

What's Blooming Now - Check the Wildflower Reports



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The Desert Environment
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Mojave Desert Wildflowers book
200 color photos

Wildflower field guide - find the flowers by color

Purple & Blue Flowers

Pink, Red, & Orange Flowers

Yellow & Gold Flowers

White Flowers | Guide

wildflower seeds

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