Sida abutifolia

Spreading Mallow - Sida abutifolia
Road to the Opportunity Mine, East of Hillsboro
New Mexico, USA
August 8, 2015

Rebecca and I found the Spreading Mallow, Sida abutifolia, shown in these photographs, on August 8, 2015.  A substantial number of these plants were along the road to the Opportunity Mine east of Hillsboro.  Among its other common names are Sida and Spreading Fan Petal, the latter because by nature this is a low spreading species (procumbent).  In the Spanish speaking world it is known by a variety of common names, including; Huinare blanco, axocatzín, buendía, guinare, hierba del buen día, malva, and yerba de la viejita.  It has several scientific synonyms, all in the Sida genus; filicaulis, filiformis, procumbens, and supina.  Philip Miller, a Scottish botanist, first described the species in 1768.  (For those of you who enjoy screw ups, the French edition of Miller’s “The Gardeners Dictionary”, published in 1787, had a portrait of the wrong Miller.  Since Philip Miller had died 16 years earlier he did not mind.)

Mearns collected the specimen shown below as part of his work for the International Boundary Commission, on October 9, 1892.

The United States range of this species is noted in the map to the right.  It is also found in most of the American tropics.  The light green color means that this species is native and not rare in the county indicated.

The CONABIO site is an excellent source of information about this species.  The site is published in Spanish, Goggle’s translation program works fairly well for translating it into English, although Sida is translated as AIDS.  This site is extensive and has a substantial amount of information about the plants of Mexico, and by extension, our area of New Mexico.

Puerto Rico is within the range of this species.  As a boy trampling across the ancient coral reefs which make up much of the Puerto Rican landscape I probably saw this species.  Perhaps it would have looked like the one below painted by Agustín Stahl (Watercolor Number 357a).  The watercolor is at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus.  The American Society of Botanical Artists has an interesting article about Dr. Stahl with examples of his work.

If you have a particular interest in the systemic taxonomy of this species you may wish to read; Phylogenetic Relationships and Classification of the Sida Generic Alliance (Malvaceae) Based on nrDNA ITS Evidence, by Javier Fuertes Aguilar, Paul A. Fryxell, and Robert K. Jansen.  This article, which describes their research and findings in this area, was published by The American Society of Plant Taxonomists and is available vis BioOne.


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