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Sphaeralcea procera
(Porter's globe mallow)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]

Family: Malvaceae

Scientific Name: Sphaeralcea procera C.L. Porter

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: Porter's globe mallow

R-E-D Code: 3-3-3

Description: Stout perennial herb; stems woody at the base, to 3 m tall with multiple ascending branches; leaves 1-5 cm long, rugose, with stellate hairs, 3-lobed, the lateral lobes shorter than the central lobe, and irregularly dentate; flowers numerous in elongate, leafy inflorescences; calyx segments about 5 mm long, densely pubescent; petals 5, purplish-pink, 5-10 mm long; stamens numerous, filaments united at the base; fruit a round schizocarp dividing into about 10 pie-shaped segments (carpels); carpels to 3.5 mm long lacking apical cusps and having net-like reticulations on lower portions of the side walls. Flowers July to September.

Similar Species: Sphaeralcea laxa rarely reaches 3 m in height (2 m is exceptional) and the carpels have apical cusps. The leaves of S. laxa average more deeply lobed than in the type of S. procera. Flower color of the sympatric S. laxa is variable, but reddish orange is most common. Sphaeralcea incana leaves are usually entire and the carpels are obtuse to cuspidate. Flowers of the sympatric S. incana are variable in color, but shades of orange to red are more common than pink to lavender. Sphaeralcea polychroma is also a large plant, but differs from S. procera by the presence of apical cusps on the carpels. Sphaeralcea polychroma is endemic to the Rio Grande valley of central and southern New Mexico.

Distribution: New Mexico, Luna County.

Habitat: Unknown. The type collection is from a sandy arroyo in Chihuahuan desert grassland at about 1,350 m (4,400 ft).

Remarks: Sphaeralcea procera is known only from the type collection taken about 20 miles northeast of Deming. Its large size, leaves, and flower color are similar to S. polychroma. Further study may find these taxa to be conspecific, in which case, S. procera is the older name. Dropped in 2017 based on the fact that it doesn’t seem to be a distinct taxon & we haven’t found plants at the type locality, despite repeated surveys. Presiding opinion of the council is that it is not a valid taxon. It is a valid observation but we are not going to recognize it taxonomically. Should be lumped with S. polychroma.

Conservation Considerations: This plant has not been relocated despite repeated searches of the type locality. If a good taxon, it may be extinct. The plant may have also been an aberrant form of another taxon. Nevertheless, searches near the type locality should be repeated.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Kearney, T.H. 1942. The North American species of Sphaeralcea subgenus Eusphaeralcea. University of California Publications in Botany 19:1-127.

Knight, P.J. 1985. Status report on Sphaeralcea procera. For: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, Albuquerque.

La Duke, J.C. 1985. A new species of Sphaeralcea (Malvaceae). The Southwestern Naturalist 30(3):433-436.

*Porter, C.L. 1943. A new species of Sphaeralcea from New Mexico. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club70(5):531-532.

Information Compiled By: David J. Ferguson, 1998; last updated, 2011

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Sphaeralcea proceraSphaeralcea procera...SH

Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council