The University of Arizona

Utilization of globemallow (Sphaeralcea) taxa by sheep.

M.D. Rumbaugh, H.F. Mayland, B.M. Pendery, G.E. Shewmaker


Globemallows (Sphaeralcea spp.) are well adapted to semiarid and arid environments. They are potentially useful as the forb component of seeding mixtures for rangeland improvement in the western states. However, the degree of acceptability of globemallow forage to livestock has not been well established. We tested 13 globemallow accessions representing 4 species and compared their utilization by sheep (Ovis aries) with that of crested wheatgrass [Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn. X A. desertorum (Fisch.) Schult.] and alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) during fall 1988 and 1989, and spring 1990 and 1991. Alfalfa consistently produced more forage per plant than wheatgrass or globemallows, and a greater portion of the alfalfa was eaten than of the other species. Sheep utilized wheatgrass more than globemallows in the fall, but the converse was true during spring pasturing. Over the 4 years, sheep ate similar proportions of wheatgrass and individual globemallows. The percentage of S. coccinea (Pursh) Rydb. forage consumed equaled that of crested wheatgrass or alfalfa in the fall but did not equal the percentage of alfalfa consumed in spring. However, S. coccinea produced much less total forage than the other species evaluated. Pre-grazing plant dry weight, dry matter content, and the occurrence of rust caused by Puccinea sherardiana Korn were negatively associated with globemallow utilization. Over-winter mortality of grazed globemallow exceeded that of ungrazed plants. Crested wheatgrass and alfalfa stands were not reduced by grazing. Globemallows are acceptable, but not highly preferred, forbs which can be seeded in environments where alfalfa and other more desirable species are not adapted.


Sphaeralcea;Medicago sativa;arid lands;Agropyron desertorum;Agropyron cristatum;species differences;Idaho;sheep;grazing behavior;pasture plants;forage;feeding preferences

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