Plant Fact Sheet: Desert Globe Mallow

Identifying Features

Desert globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) have 5 petaled flowers ranging from apricot to red-orange in color. They bloom quickly during the spring providing the desert with a splash of color. Their leaves are gray/green, 3-lobed, and toothed. Because their stems grow in all directions, this plant often looks more like a spiky round shrub.


They can be found in arid environments with sandy, rocky or gravelly soil, sandy washes and rocky hillsides, sometimes among pinyon and juniper, below 4000 feet, as well as along roadsides.


These plants are found in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of Southern California and Nevada, to southwest Utah through Arizona to northern Sonora and Baja Mexico.

Life Span

The globe mallow is a perennial which means that it lives for more than two years.


Desert globe mallow typically grow in large clumps up to 3 feet in height and 2-3 feet wide.

Quick Facts

  • Tiny leaf hairs on the globe mallow are an eye irritant, which is probably why they are also called sore-eye poppies or pink-eye poppies. These hairs are thought to discourage herbivores from eating the plant.

 ASDM Logo  ©Copyright 2008, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Silhouette Icon

Support Desert Museum Education!

A donation of any size will help sustain our educational efforts. Simply select- Education, Conservation, Science, Research for your designation.