Appearance: This small perennial appears to be a sweet little hollyhock. It grows to just over 12″ tall, and the silver-green, hairy leaves are each deeply lobed into three sections. Another variety found in cultivation, Sphaeralcea munruona is very similar, but with more gently lobed leaves. The wheel-shaped bright orange flowers are under an inch in diameter. Their bright appearance in often otherwise dull areas is what earned it its common name of cowboy’s delight. Blooming starts in June and continues through September.
Habitat: Cowboy’s delight thrives in sunny, open areas and can be found in both the plains and foothills.
Landscape suitability: Give cowboy’s delight a try in very dry areas of the garden. Once established, it should need minimal-to-no extra irrigation. It looks terrific in rock gardens, rocky slopes, and dry perennial gardens. Keep in mind that deer find it rather tasty.
Text and top photo contributed by Carey Harrington, Colorado Plant Master
Native Plant Master Manual, El Paso County; Colorado State University; 2008
Guide to Colorado Wildflowers, Volume 1, Plains and Foothills; G.K.Guennel; Westcliff Publishers; 2004
Wild about Wildflowers: Extreme Botanizing in Crested Butte, Wildflower Capital of Colorado; Katherine Darrow; 2006