Scarlet Globemallow
Sphaeralcea coccinea (Nutt.) Rydb.
Family: Malvaceae, Mallow
Genus: Sphaeralcea
Synonyms:
Other names:
Nomenclature: coccinea = scarlet
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Medicinal plant
No edibility data
Description

General: plant height: 10-20 cm. Growth habit: Low, spreading perennial with rhizomes, growing in patches. Stems: grayish with dense, star-shaped hairs.

Leaves: alternate, leaf blades 2-5 cm long, deeply palmately cut almost to base into 3-5 main, wedge-shaped segments, gray-hairy beneath, the segments again deeply, often unequally 2-3-lobed.

Flowers: orange, saucer-shaped, about 2 cm wide, with 5 broad, notched petals, in small terminal clusters. The stalks are much shorter than the calyx. Lower bracts at the flower bases are leaflike, the upper ones reduced and soon falling off. Calyx 5-lobed, usually without bracteoles. Stamens numerous, joined to a tube toward the base, freed singly higher up. June-July.

Fruits: cheese-shaped capsules composed of 10 or more 1-seeded carpels. Each carpel about 3 mm long, densely hairy on the back, net-veined on about 90% of the sides.


Distribution

Quite common on grasslands and prairies in all parts of MT. Primarily a species of the Great Plains.
Medicinal Uses

The Navajo used tea made from scarlet globemallow as a remedy for diseases caused by witchcraft. The roots were used to stop bleeding, and they were also chewed to reduce hunger when food was scarce. The leaves are slimy and mucilaginous when crushed, and they were chewed or mashed and used as poultices or plasters on inflamed skin, sores, wounds and sore or blistered feet. Leaves were also used in lotions to relieve skin diseases, or they were dried, ground and dusted on sores. Fresh leaves and flowers were chewed to relieve hoarse or sore throats and upset stomachs. Whole plants were used to make a sweet-tasting tea that made distasteful medicines more palatable. It was also said to reduce swellings, improve appetite, relieve upset stomachs, and strengthen voices. The Dakota heyoka chewed the plants to a paste and rubbed it on their skin as protection from scalding.


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