Callirhoe alcaeoides (Michx.) A. Gray
Pink Poppy Mallow
CC = 6
CW = 5
MOC = 20
Family - Malvaceae
Habit - Perennial forb from a thickened taproot.
Stems - Ascending to erect, to 45 cm, densely pubescent with stellate hairs.
Leaves - Basal and alternate, petiolate, stipulate. Basal leaf petioles 7-19 cm long, pubescent with stellate hairs. Basal leaf blades 2.5-10.0 cm long, deltoid-cordate to ovate in outline, with 3-5 shallow to deeply palmate lobes (rarely unlobed), these often irregularly lobed again, the ultimate segments usually relatively broad, the margins entire to scalloped, the upper surface pubescent with simple hairs, the undersurface with stellate and sometimes also scattered, simple hairs. Leaves of the aerial stems with the blades 4-8 cm long, triangular-cordate to broadly obovate in outline, with 3-5 shallow to deeply palmate lobes, these often pinnately lobed again, the margins entire to scalloped, the pubescence as in the basal leaves. Stipules persistent, often partially fused to the petiole, 5-8 mm long, lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate.
Inflorescence - Racemes with 4-14 flowers, sometimes condensed and appearing as stalked or umbellate clusters. Bractlets subtending the calyx absent.
Flowers - Usually perfect. Calyces cup-shaped at fruiting, 7-10 mm long, the outer surface densely pubescent with simple hairs and often also a few 4-rayed stellate hairs, the lobes ascending to somewhat spreading, 5-8 mm long, lanceolate. Petals pale pink or white, 8-20 mm long, the broadly rounded to truncate tips with an irregular to somewhat fringed margin. Stamens numerous, the staminal column circular in cross-section, without a low crown of teeth at the tip. Pistils with 9-23 locules, the carpels arranged in a loose flattened ring. Styles fused most of their length, each branch with a single linear stigmatic area along the inner side toward the tip.
Fruits - Schizocarps 6-9 mm in diameter, with 10-13 mericarps. Mericarps indehiscent, 4.0-5.5 mm long, the dorsal surface hairy, the sides of the fertile portion with a reticulate pattern of thickenings, separated from the prominent sterile portion by a well-developed collar. Seeds 2-3 mm long, kidney-shaped, black or less commonly dark brown.
Flowering - May - August.
Habitat - Prairies, upland forests, calcareous glades, roadsides, pastures, old quarries.
Origin - Native to the U.S.
Lookalikes - None.
Other info. - This plant is found in a few scattered counties in Missouri, predominantly toward the western side of the state. Its main distribution is within a tight band within Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, with smaller populations found in a few other states. It is easy to identify, with the peculiar fruits characteristic of the Malvaceae, and white corollas, unlike most other members of that family. The plant prefers areas of full sun and would make a nice garden ornamental.
Photographs taken at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Chase County, KS, 6-5-2016 and 6-3-2023 (SRTurner).