Sunday, February 10, 2013

Globe Mallow

Globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) is one desert wildflower we can count on blooming abundantly most years, no matter how little rain we've had.
After a good series of winter rains, roadsides and entire hillsides may be awash in their orange glow.
There are 15 species and 9 subspecies of Sphaeralcea in Arizona. As their name suggests, they are related to marsh mallows (Althea officialis), which is the original source of thickener to make what was once a honey-based confection; modern marshmallows are made from gelatin and corn syrup. Other familiar members of the mallow family (Malvaceae) are cotton (Gossypium spp.) and okra (Hibiscus esculentus), both of which have been important agricultural crops in central and southern Arizona.  

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