Photo credit: Tony Frates, UNPS
Gierisch mallow or Gierisch’s globemallow (Sphaeralcea gierischii) | ESA status: endangered
The Gierisch mallow, also known as Gierisch’s globemallow, is an endangered plant found only in Utah and Arizona and threatened by gypsum mining.
Gierisch mallow facts
A tall, wispy plant with orange flowers, the Gierisch mallow appears to be a perennial that sprouts annually from a woody stalk each spring.
Gierisch mallow habitat
This narrowly endemic wildflower, first described in 2002, grows on gypsum outcrops in arid Mohave desertscrub communities in Washington County, Utah, and northern Mohave County, Arizona.
Only 18 populations are known to exist, 17 on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and one on Arizona state land.
What are the threats to the Gierisch mallow?
The species is highly imperiled, as most of its range is being actively mined for gypsum. Gypsum is used to manufacture sheetrock, which is used in home construction. Gypsum mining in Arizona threatens the two largest populations of Gierisch mallow, representing up to 50 percent of the species’ total numbers. Gypsum mining eliminates mallow habitat and creates piles of tailings that may be dumped on plants. It is unknown if Gierisch mallows will readily grow on reclaimed mining sites.
While gypsum mining is the major threat to the Gierisch mallow, the beleaguered plant must also contend with other problems. Unauthorized off-road vehicle use, illegal dumping, and impacts associated with illegal target shooting are degrading habitat, as are invasive plant species such as red brome and cheatgrass. Livestock will also eat or trample the mallow.
What WildEarth Guardians is doing to preserve the Gierisch mallow
WildEarth Guardians petitioned for the plant’s federal protection in June 2007, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Gierisch mallow as “endangered” in 2013.