Found throughout the Mojave, Sonoran, and Great Basin deserts, desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua, Malvaceae) thrives in the rocky, sandy soil of the southwest. At home on well-drained slopes anywhere between sea level and 8000 feet, these plants can be found associated with a wide variety of plant communities including creosote scrub, Joshua tree woodlands, and pinyon-juniper woodlands.
These shrubby, herbaceous perennials grow to roughly three feet in height and width, sprawling outward with thin, leggy stems. The broad, woolly, scalloped, and lobed leaves set the species apart from other mallows, as do the particularly large flowers. Each spring the flowers burst forth in blazing color. Although orange-red is most common, they can also appear pink-purple.