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Common Name: Cushion Globemallow
Other Common Names: Jones Globemallow
Scientific Name: Sphaeralcea caespitosa
Family: Mallow Family (Malvaceae)
Distribution: endemic (restricted) to Beaver and Millard Counties, Utah
Habitat: salt desert shrub communities on calcareous soils derived from limestone or dolomite
Habit: dwarf perennial herb
Height: to 0.5'
Spread: to 0.5'
Foliage Color: pale gray-green
Leaves: thick, densely hairy, rounded or diamond-shaped, ca. 0.5-2" long, with rounded teeth
Flower Color: peach
Flower Form: flowers 1-1.5" across, with five separate petals, solitary or few at the tips of branches
Cultural Requirements: Prefers full sun and well-drained calcareous soils. Fully cold-hardy. Drought hardy (i.e., needs no supplemental water after establishment on the Wasatch Front) and intolerant of overwatering. Give these plants room, as they do not thrive in competition.
Culture: As with many mallows, seeds of this species are "hard", i.e., they do not take up water and must be scarified in some way, such as nicking, in order to absorb the water they need to germinate. They have no other dormancy, and plants are readily obtained from scarified seeds in container culture. We have never tried to direct-seed this plant.
Uses and Notes of Interest: Unlike most of the species we feature in these workshops, which are common and widespread, cushion globemallow is a narrowly restricted endemic from the West Desert. The seeds you will be planting were collected from cultivated plants at the Wasatch Elementary School Utah Heritage Garden. This little plant is exceptionally showy, with beautiful gray-green foliage, large flowers and a much higher flower-to-leaf ratio than common Utah globemallows. It also has a long bloom time for a native desert plant, and the delicate fragrance of the flowers is an added bonus. It keeps its diminuitive stature even when grown under relatively lush conditions, and makes an ideal rock garden plant. It is an abundant seed-producer. The tiny seeds are in wagonwheel-like capsules that can be stripped from the plant when dry.