Sphaeralcea laxa Woot. & Standl.
Family: Malvaceae
caliche globemallow,  more...
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Patrick Alexander  
Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Felger 2000, McDougall 1973, Allred and Ivey 2012
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Perennial herb, to 1 m tall, from a woody crown and stout taproot; stems erect; herbage densely stellate-tomentose. Leaves: Alternate along the stems, on slender petioles 5-30 mm long; blades ovate to deltoid, 1-5 cm long and nearly as wide, 3-lobed, with the lateral lobes about half the length of the middle lobe; leaf base base truncate (squared-off) to deeply cordate (heart-shaped) and the margins crentate to coarsely toothed; upper leaf surface green with stellate hairs mildly interlacing; lower surface paler. Flowers: Pink to red, in a lax, few-flowered panicle, on pedicels 2-5 mm long; each flower subtended by one or more filiform bacteoles, 3-5 mm long; sepals 5, fused together at the base, 5-8 mm long, stellate-tomentulose; petals 5, dark wine-red to pink, 10-18 mm long. Fruits: Schizocarps truncate-ovoid, 5-6 mm high and 5-9 mm wide; splitting into several carpels, these copiously hairy, finely but obviously reticulate at the base, and containing 1-3 seeds. Ecology: Found in caliche soils, disturbed areas, rocky slopes, and washes in the open, from 2,000-6,000 ft (610-1829 m); flowers March-November. Distribution: AZ, sw NM, s TX; south to n MEX. Notes: A variable species, with leaves ranging from thin, bright-green, and shallowly lobed, to thick, whitish-tomentose, and deeply dissected; the plant is usually infused with some amount of purple dye, often giving foliage a slight purple hue; the open, relatively few-flowered inflorescence with red to pink flowers and dark-purple anthers are especially distinctive. Sphaeralcea spp. can be tricky to tell apart, and the key characteristics are often 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: Unknown, but others in the genus have many uses. Etymology: Sphaeralcea is from the Greek sphaira, a globe, and alcea, the hollyhock genus (a type of mallow); laxa means growing loosely. Synonyms: Sphaeralcea ribifolia Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015, AHazelton 2017
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Patrick Alexander  
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Patrick Alexander  
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Sue Carnahan  
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Sue Carnahan  
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