Sphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua
It is a perennial shrub native to parts of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona in the U.S.; and Sonora and Baja California in Northwest Mexico. It grows well in alkaline soil, both sandy or clay, usually in the company of creosote bush scrub and desert chaparral habitats, from 150–2,500 metres (490–8,200 ft) in elevation. It is found in the Mojave Desert, Great Basin deserts, and Sonoran Desert ecoregions.
The Sphaeralcea ambigua plant grows to 3 feet (0.91 m) in height, and spreads to 2–3 feet (0.61–0.91 m) in width. The leaves (see lower left image) are fuzzy with white hairs on both sides, lobed, palmately veined, and on long stems, the number of which increase with age. The fruit is a brown capsule containing numerous seeds, first quite spherical as implied by the genus name, later flattening to a disk (see top left image). The flowers are bowl-shaped, 5-petaled, apricot to orange in color, and bloom in the spring.
Sphaeralcea ambigua has eight to nine named varieties.
- They include:
- Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray var. ambigua 
- Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray var. aculeata Jeps. (synonym for S. a. var. ambigua) 
- Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray var. rosacea (Munz & I.M. Johnst.) Kearney 
- Sphaeralcea ambigua A. Gray var. rugosa (Kearney) Kearney 
Sphaeralcea ambigua is cultivated as an ornamental plant by specialty plant nurseries for use in desert and drought tolerant gardens, and a native plant its desert region's natural landscaping and habitat restoration projects.
- Cultural Requirements 
- Exposure: full sun
- Water: natural rainfall; supplemental water will increase flowering
- Soil: desert soil, tolerant of some clay, prefers good drainage
- Propagation: easy by seed; tricky by vegetative cuttings, best results from first flush of new spring growth
- Maintenance: low, periodically cut back to keep vegetative look
- Jepson: Sphaeralcea ambigua . accessed 11.11.2011
- University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension - Master Gardeners . accessed 11.11.2011
- Jepson Taxon Report: Taxon Report . accessed 11.11.2011
- Jepson - var. ambigua . accessed 11.11.2011
- Jepson var. aculeata/ambigua . accessed 11.11.2011
- Jepson - var. rosacea . accessed 11.11.2011
- Jepson - var. rugosa . accessed 11.11.2011
- Native American Ethnobotany (University of Michigan - Dearborn) . accessed 11.11.2011
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sphaeralcea ambigua.|
- USDA Plants Profile: Sphaeralcea ambigua (Desert Globemallow)
- Jepson Manual treatment for Sphaeralcea ambigua
- ITIS Report: Sphaeralcea ambigua
- Sphaeralcea ambigua — CalPhotos Gallery