Seed of the Week: Superstition Mallow

Our mystery seeds last week were from a Superstition mallow, or Palmer's Indian mallow, 
Abutilon palmeri.

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The Superstition mallow is named for the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix, Arizona. It is a native of the Southwest.

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The first thing you notice are the lovely orange-yellow blossoms, which resemble those of velvet leaf. The invasive weed velvet leaf belongs to the same genus as the mild-mannered Superstition mallow.

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The Superstition mallow also has velvety leaves, but they are distinctly gray-green rather than bright green. Dave's Garden says the leaves can irritate the skin.

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The seed pods resemble those of velvet leaf, as well. One thing I noticed is that the Superstition mallow has a depression or "well" in the middle. See a better photograph of the seed head, as well as some of the entire plant, at Arizona Wildflowers.

velvet-leaf-mature-seedhead

The velvet leaf seed head in the photograph above doesn't really have that depressed area in the center.

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Honey bees regularly visit Superstition mallow flowers. They climb right in.

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In the landscape it can be a good-sized shrub. Some reach six feet tall. As a native to the Southwest, it requires very little water. It is recommended for xeriscapes.

Just goes to show you that you can't tell a plant by its genus.

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