Desert globemallow, apricot mallow
South and east California, Nevada, south Utah and most of Arizona
Deserts, sagebrush flats; sandy areas, foothills
Up to 4 inches long, grey-green, weakly divided into 3 lobes, crinkled and with fuzzy edges
Orange or red are the usual colors of sphaeralcea ambigua flowers, but this is quite a variable species, and populations in central Arizona tend to be pink, lavender or even white. The cup-shaped flowers have five rounded petals, with a cluster of tiny stamens at the center. Like other sphaeralcea species, the leaves and stems have a covering of tiny, star-shaped hairs. Leaf surfaces are crossed by prominent veins. Old specimens may be 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and have a dense cluster of stems that become woody towards the base. The plant inhabits arid desert areas in Utah, Nevada, California and Arizona, and its range extends up to pinyon-juniper woodland, plateaus and mid elevation mountain slopes.