Wild Flowers of Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza
These shy pink mallow are some of the first I've found blooming around town. Mallows are common and prolific here. Some are natives to the area, others have naturalized. They all love our long dry season, the warm summers and frost-free winter nights.
Because they are so common, they are often disregarded, or neglected. I often see them at the far edge of a yard, or growing next to an old wooden garage in an alley, or along the banks of Mission Creek, or on a rocky slope up on the Riviera.
Neglect suits them perfectly. They thrive when left on their own. They unfurl their twisted pink blossoms without pretense, to their own delight; they crowd together on woody branches among velvety green leaves.
The pink mallows are woody tree-shrubs that have an open form, and grow to ten or twelve feet tall. They are perennial here, and bloom from March until about October. They bloom long and in dense masses of pink that all but hide the leaves and branches. Hummingbirds and bees love them. Deer are indifferent.
A local native, Malva assurgentiflora, the Malva Rosa, or Island Shrub Mallow, has smaller pink flowers whose petals are painted with little watercolor stripes of red. They are native to Santa Barbara's Channel Islands, and grow unaided, on dry rocky soil with only the rainwater that nature provides.
Tree Mallow are in the same family as common hollyhocks...they are all lavateras. You can see they are practically kissing-cousins when you compare their leaves, the form of their cup-shaped flowers.
Mallows are rustic and sentimental. I love them because they hold no affectations, do not feign to fanciness. They forswear vanity. They grow tall and lanky, with great joy, it seems. I take special note of them, because I know they are often overlooked - they are hidden in plain sight.
The pink and green velvet tree-mallows are just beginning to bloom right now. They portend the playful young joy of springtime.