Malvaceae (Mallow Family)
A large family but with few species in the region. Only one has showy flowers, which resemble miniature hollyhocks.
Sphaeralcea ambiguaGray. Apricot Mallow. (Plate 6.119) A hardy perennial, commonly bushy, with numerous stems, up to 30 in (7 dm) high. Stems are somewhat woody at the base and are coated with a feltlike surface of fine, star-shaped hairs. These may be irritating to the skin. Leaves are variable but are usually ovate with
a heart-shaped base, somewhat three-lobed, and prominently wrinkle-veined. The inflorescence is a spike or narrow panicle. Flowers have petals 1/2–1 in long. They are showy and bloom over a long period. Flower: Deep apricot color, grenadine.
Distribution. Common and widespread in canyons throughout the range; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, below 8,500 ft (2,591 m).
Ssp.monticolaKearney. Mountain Apricot Mallow. Much like S. ambigua, but the stems are entirely herbaceous, the leaves thinner, and the inflorescence narrow and few-flowered. Flower: Same as S. ambigua .
Distribution. Pinyon-juniper Woodland, up to 9,000 ft (2,744 m).
Ssp.rosacea(Munz & Johnston) Kearney. Lavender Wand Mallow. Stems slender and spreading but slightly woody at the base; leaves thinner and less prominently veined than S. ambigua . Flower: Lavender or paler.
Distribution. Locally in canyons cut through limestone in the Inyo Mountains; Desert Scrub, up to 6,000 ft (1,829 m).