Densely stellate perennial 1-2 dm from deep-seated running roots, the stems often clustered on a stout caudex; lvs 2-5 cm, deeply 3-parted, the divisions variously lobed; fls in a compact, leafy raceme; pet 1-2 cm, rusty-red; mature carpels densely stellate, 1-seeded, reticulate on the sides, tuberculate on the back; 2n=10. Dry prairies and plains; w. Io. and w. Minn. to Man. and w. Tex., w. to the Rocky Mts. May, June. (Malvastrum c.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Tollefson 2006, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Heil et al. 2013, Allred and Ivey 2012
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Subshrub General: Long-lived perennial herb, 10-40 cm tall, from a woody caudex and stout taproot, or less commonly from creeping rhizomes; stems solitary or a few per plant, low, spreading; herbage grayish-green or greenish and covered in dense stellate hairs. Leaves: Alternate and petiolate; blades 1-4 cm long and 1-5 cm wide, pinnately parted or divided into 3-5 lobes, with the midlobe pinnately cleft or parted, and the lateral lobes cuneate (narrow at the base and wider near the tip), rounded-truncate to acute at the apex, and at least two-thirds as long as the midlobe. Flowers: Orange-red, in dense, short, racemes growing in the upper axils of the plant, on pedicels much shorter than calyx; calyx 5-lobed, densely hairy, 5-10 mm long, usually without any subtending bractlets; petals 5, orange-red, 10-20 mm long; staminal column glabrous or pubescent. Fruits: Schizocarp with 8-14 single-seeded carpels, these 2-3 mm high, the lower two-thirds or more reticulate on the sides and back. Ecology: Found on dry slopes, open ground, and disturbed areas from 5,000-8,000 ft (1524-2438 m); flowers April-September. Distribution: Saskatchewan and Alberta, CAN; south to AZ, NM, and TX. Notes: This species is notable for its both upright and sometimes sprawling habit, and densely hairy herbage. Also note the leaves which are divided into 3-5 wedge-shaped lobes, with some of the lobes re-divided into more lobes near the tip; also the lobes to the side are about the same length at the middle lobe, making the overall leaf about as long as it is wide. Sphaeralcea spp. can be tricky to tell apart, and the key characteristics are often on the mature fruits, which are small and cheese-wheel shaped, and split apart like the segments of an orange. It is best to make a quality collection with mature fruits for identification. Ethnobotany: Used ceremonially; the chewed roots and dried plant were applied to sores; a tonic was used to improve appetite; and used as a disinfectant. Etymology: Sphaeralcea is from the Greek sphaira, a globe, and alcea, the hollyhock genus (a type of mallow); coccinea means scarlet, alluding to the flowers. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley 2010, AHazelton 2017