Information About Chaparral Mallow
Common Name: Chaparral mallow, Mendocino bushmallow, the mesa bushmallow and the chaparral mallow.
Scientific name: Malacothamnus nuttallii
Habitat: Native to coastal sage scrub, chaparral and foothill woodland ecosystems in Southern California and Baja California. It is also a good garden plant, where it is often used as a hedge, background shrub or for erosion control. The so-called Santa Cruz Island Bush Mallow (Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nesioticus) is a variation of the species, which is considered endangered by the United States Federal Government. In general, the chaparral bushmallow is considered a common species in the chaparral of Southern California and Northern Baja Califronia.
Habit: While there are many variations, the chaparral bushmallow is frequently observed as a shrub growing to about six feet in height (although it can grow to twice that height or more). It produces small (to about one inch) pink or mauve flowers during the spring and summer months. This fast-growing shrub has hairy, dense branches that are often described as wand-like, and the leaves of the plant appear fuzzy on top and underneath. It is these hairs, in part, that help the plant retain moisture during the dry season.
American Indian uses: The Chumash made cordage from the bark of this plant. They wove the cords to make baskets for collecting Brodiaea and other bulbs. The Luiseno prepared a tea from the leaves to take as an emetic.
Herbal uses: no data available, help us build this database by contributing information.
Chemical Constituents: no data available, help us build this database by contributing information.
Propagation: The Chaparral Mallow is fast growing, drought tolerant and useful for erosion control on slopes as well as a backdrop to dark foliaged plants or for use in a large-scale, sunny flower garden. It needs a hard fall pruning to prevent it from becoming leggy the following year. Full sun. Will creep underground to form a patch with age. The chaparral bushmallow does well when growing in well-drained soil in full to part sun. It can survive temperatures that briefly dip as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is a very drought-tolerant and fire resistant plant.
Other: When flowering, the chaparral bush mallow attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and it is one of the first plants to return en force after a wildfire.