Desert Globemallow - Apricot Mallow

Sphaeralcea ambigua

Desert Mallow

This grayish perennial herb, often growing in large clumps, reaches a height of between 20 and 40 inches. It has erect branches and, 3-lobed, scalloped-edged leaves which resemble the maple.

This, the most drought-resistant member of the Mallow family (Malvaceae), is grazed upon by bighorn sheep and domestic sheep and goats. In wet years it forms a spectacular orange display across the desert southwest.


Mojave and Sonoran deserts of Southern California and Nevada, to southwest Utah through Arizona to northern Mexico.


Sandy washes and rocky hillsides, sometimes among pinyon and juniper, below 4000 feet.

desert globemallow


Bright orange or apricot, 5-petaled flowers bloom year round. These cup-shaped flowers grow along upper stems to 1 1/2 inches wide. In some forms, petals can have white, pink, purple or bluish hues.

Desert Globemallow is known by many other common names, including:

  • Globemallow
  • Desert Mallow
  • Apricot Mallow
  • Desert Hollyhock
  • Mal de Ojo
  • Sore-eye Poppy

The last common name is derived from the fact that the leaf hairs are an eye irritant to some people. Perhaps this is because the hairs are star-shaped, as can be seen under a magnifier.

There are 9 species of globemallow -- genus Sphaeralcea -- in California and 16 in Arizona.

-- A.R. Royo

More Wildflowers

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.

Photo 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

More Wildflowers


Related DesertUSA Pages


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Enter Email:

Shop desert store



Copyright © 1996- and Digital West Media, Inc. - -