Random Plant: Scarlet globemallow

DSCF1186

Scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea, Malvaceae) photographed 04/12/2014 at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.

Native throughout arid regions of the North American west, scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea, Malvaceae) can be found inhabiting deserts, prairies, scrublands, and pinyon-juniper woodlands. This sun-loving perennial is highly tolerant to both drought and salinity, making it well-adapted to these xeric environments.

DSCF1181

Scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea, Malvaceae) photographed 04/12/2014 at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.

The above-ground parts of this plant arise from a deep, woody taproot that can reach three feet (nearly 1 m) in length. Early in the spring it begins to grow hairy shoots that reach only 4-16 inches (10-40 cm) in height. The leaves are palmately lobed, deeply incised, and fuzzy, having a whitish-green appearance. Dark orange, five-parted flowers appear from late spring through mid-summer. After pollination they develop into dry fruit bearing hard seeds.

DSCF1178

Scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea, Malvaceae) photographed 04/12/2014 at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.

Scarlet globemallow is an important forage plant for a number of large mammals including wildlife like pronghorn, bighorn sheep, bison, and prairie dogs as well as domesticated livestock. Although it’s not the most palatable plant to eat, it’s better than nothing when grasses are sparse.

Advertisements

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, National Parks, Random Plant and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s