Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Prickly-Mallow
Sida spinosa

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sida (SEE-duh) (Info)
Species: spinosa (spy-NO-suh) (Info)

3 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #1 of Sida spinosa by Jeff_Beck

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #2 of Sida spinosa by Jeff_Beck

By htop
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By melody
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There are a total of 8 photos.
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1 positive
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive melody On Aug 18, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

I've seen this cheerful little weed growing in all sorts of waste places here in west KY. I do not actually cultivate it myself.

The small yellow flowers open for a short time on sunny mornings, otherwise, it's a pretty drab plant.

The flowers are attractive to many insects and the seeds are eaten by songbirds. It has a multibranched appearance and is easy to overlook.

It does not seem to be overly invasive and doesn't pose an allergy problem to me, so, if it's good for the can stay.

Neutral htop On Jul 25, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this plant, but have observed it in its natural habitat.

Prickly-mallow is also called prickly fanpetals and is a native plant that is found in the United States from the midwestern to the eastern states south to Florida and Texas and in Arizona. It also in tropical America. It inhabits croplands, abandoned fields, cultivated fields, pastures, gardens, empty lots, grassy areas along railroads and roadsides and waste areas with recently disturbed soil. It has a shallow taproot that divides into secondary roots and spreads by reseeding itself occasionally forming colonies.

It grows to a height of 1 to 2 feet and has branching occasionally. The stems are erect covered with fine white hairs. The 2" long and 1" wide alternate, elliptical, ovate or ovate-oblong leaves have toothed outer margins and have long petioles (1" long). The leaves, commonly with a blunt green spine below the base of their petioles, are sparsely covered with fine hairs. They are rounded or slightly cordate at the base. Stipules at the base of mature plants become hardened and spine-like; hence, its common name "Prickly Sida".

It begins to bloom in May and continues to do so through October with the flowers usually blooming during bright sunny mornings. The 1/4" to 1/3" inches wide, 5-petalled, pale yellow to yellowish-orange blooms are usually solitary on long flowering stalks from the leaf axils; but, they may also be in clusters. The petals are spreading, well rounded and somewhat floppy. The blooms possess 5 sepals that are green and broadly lanceolate as well as have a united column of 5 styles and numerous stamens which are fused into a central, bushy column. Functioning as insect nectar guides, there are pale lines across the petals' upper surfaces that can be likened to airport runway lines.

The round seedpod with 5 brown segments (chambers) encloses a single 1.5 mm long, reddish brown and 3-angled seed which has 2 spreading spines at its apex. The seedpods break apart thereby releasing the seeds. The empty seedpods may remain on the plant for quite sometime. Once the seeds germinate, this plant develops very quickly.

Although this plant is considered to be a weed by many, it is valuable to wildlife. The blooms attract various bees, including bumblebees, little carpenter bees and halictid bees, as well as small to medium-sized butterflies and skippers. Among them are the clouded sulfur, little yellow, cabbage white, checkered white, and common checkered skipper. The foliage may be eaten occasionally by mammalian herbivores which help to distribute the seeds due to the spines on the segments of the seedpods clinging to their fur.

Prickly Sida is a rather unique plant. At first glance, it does not closely resemble other Mallows which are either tall wetland species, small weedy vines, with large blooms or plants that have purple or pink blooms.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Benton, Kentucky
Cypress, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

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