CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Abutilon parishii

Copyright 1990 C. David Bertelsen

Heading for profile page
CPC Home Join now
About CPC
CPC National Collection
Conservation Directory Resources
Invasive Plant Species Plant News
Plant Links Participating Institutions
Search CPC
Search    Alphabetical List    Reference Finder    CPC Home

CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Abutilon parishii

Common Names: 
Parish's abutilon, Pima Indian mallow
S. Wats.
Growth Habit: 
Subshrub, Shrub, Forb/herb
CPC Number: 


Profile Links
 Fish & WildLife

Abutilon parishiienlarge
Photographer: Copyright 1990 C. David Bertelsen
Image Owner: personal

Abutilon parishiienlarge
Photographer: Copyright 1990 C. David Bertelsen
Image Owner: personal

Abutilon parishii is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Kathleen C. Rice, Steven A. Blackwell contributed to this Plant Profile.

Abutilon parishii

Abutilon parishii has a woody base with herbaceous branches, the branches and petioles densely stellate-tomentose. Plants usually have long, sparsely leaved stems (Shreve and Wiggins 1994). The cordate leaves are extremely velvety and the reverse side is much paler than the green upper leaf surface. Light orange flowers give way to fruits that persist through the winter.

Botanical Description:
Plant: subshrub; ca. 1 m tall, the stems minutely glandular-pubescent and with more or less retrorse simple hairs Leaves: ovate (cordate), 3-6 cm long, coarsely dentate, softly matted-pubescent beneath, appressed-strigose above, discolorous, the lower leaves with petioles 2 or more times as long as the blades Flowers: axillary on short (up to 2 cm) pedicels; calyx 6-8 mm long; petals 10-12 mm long. Fruit: FRUITS schizocarp, exceeding the calyx, 8-10 mm diameter, stellate-pubescent; mericarps 6-8, apically apiculate Misc: In mountains; 900-1000 m (3000-3300 ft); Apr-Aug REFERENCES: Fryxell, Paul A. 1994. Malvaceae. J. Ariz. Nev. Acad. Sci. Volume 27(2), 222-236.

Supplemental information (courtesy of David Bertelsen):
A. parishii can be found from 120-595 meters in Mexico and 795-1479 meters in the US.

Based on measurements from 498 plants, leaf blade length ranged from 1.2 -15.2 cm (average=6.3 cm) and the blade width ranged from 0.9-13.5 cm (average=4.1 cm).

Leaves are actually cordate rather than ovate with an acuminate tip that is a key characteristic for this species.

Mericarps range from 5-10, with the average of 942 being 6.8; 72% had 6-7 mericarps. The 1-2 mm points on top of the mericarps are also a key characteristic

Stem measurements: The longest stem measured was 189.2 cm, the average of live stems was 60.7 cm in Mexico and 30 cm in the US. Interestingly the average of dead stems was 58.8 cm in Mexico and 80.3 in the US.

(D. Bertelsen, personal communication, January 5, 2012).

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
State Range of  Abutilon parishii
  Plants are usually found at cliff bases, rocky hillsides, lower slopes and ledges in canyons, usually among rocks and boulders (Rondeu 1991).

Associated species include Simmondsia chinensis, Carnegiea gigantea, Ambrosia deltoidea, Abutilon incanum, Agave toumeyana v. toumeyana, Fouquieria splendens, and Abutilon palmeri (Rice 1994, Vandevender et al. 1994, Rondeu 1991).

  A total of 270 plants were known in Arizona as of 1991 and, of these, 199 were located in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Surveys conducted from 1991-1994 located numerous new populations in several mountain ranges in south-central Arizona and central Sonora, significantly expanding the known range (Van Devender et al. 1994).

As of 2001, 84 populations are known to occur in 17 mountain ranges in Sonora and Arizona, although most populations are relatively small, usually consisting of less than 30 individuals. Further surveys may potentially locate unknown populations, as there is still a great deal of unexplored potential habitat for this species.

Number Left
  Eighty four populations are known in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico (Van Devender et al. 1994).


Global Rank:  
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Arizona S2 8/1/2002  
  Sonora 7/8/1992  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Plants seem to prefer sites that receive afternoon shade. The leaves of this species are the largest of the Arizona Abutilons, which set them apart from the small-leaved plants most commonly found in the desert.
Seeds of this species do not readily germinate. Old seeds stored at ambient indoor temperatures germinated, while newly collected seeds did not (both were untreated).
Fruits dehisce during June, and again following the summer rains, in late August. Because the size and growth rates of plants are directly resource-limited, age classes are difficult to determine.

  In Sonora, competition and fire threat from exotic buffelgrass introduced for grazing, and thornberry are threats (Van Devender et al. 1994).
Mining could have a potentially hazardous effect on the species in Arizona.
Plants located next to trails are at risk of trampling by hikers. Parts of trails located in the Santa Catalina Mountains have been moved to eliminate this risk.
Livestock grazing in areas near populations of this species could affect populations indirectly through habitat degradation, but because of the steepness of sites where plants are located, trampling is not considered to be a major threat.
Extended periods of drought may also pose a threat to this species

Current Research Summary
  Studies to determine whether plants are self-compatible have been conducted on plants at Desert Botanical Garden. Flowers open in the mid-afternoon, or not at all, but seeds form even if flowers do not open. The lobes of the stigma curve down and dangle among the stamens in both open and closed flowers. Exclosed flowers also produced seeds. Four germination tests were conducted during 1994 and 1995. Low germination percentages (10% and 30%) were reported for two accessions of seed that had been frozen for approximately one year. No seeds germinated during the remaining tests (fresh unfrozen seed and fresh seed produced in cultivation).

Current Management Summary
  Not Available

Research Management Needs
  Studies to determine seed dispersal (by birds) are needed. Research as to the nature and duration of the soil seedbank would be useful.

Management of invasive grasses is also recommended to prevent competition or catastrophic loss due to fire.

Monitoring Efforts
  Not Available

Ex Situ Needs
  As of 1999, Desert Botanical Garden has only 357 field collected seeds from two populations of A. parishii, and 5,939 seeds produced in cultivation. Desert Botanical Garden plans to collect from additional new populations to augment the genetic representation of the conservation seedbank of this species.

In 2011, the DBG was tasked with the collection of seeds from new populations of A. parishii in cooperation with the BLM and CPC. A portion of these seeds will be stored and grown out at the Garden while the rest are stored at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Ft. Collins, Co.


Books (Single Authors)

Kartesz, J.T. 1993. Species distribution data for vascular plants of 70 geographical areas, from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

Kearney, T.H.; Peebles, R.H. 1973. Arizona flora. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1085p.

Shreve, F.; Wiggins, I.L. 1964. Vegetation and flora of the Sonoran Desert. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press. 1740p.

Books (Sections)

Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland. In: Kartesz, J.T.; Meacham, C.A., editors. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill, NC.

Electronic Sources

(2000). Center for Plant Conservation's National Living Collection--Profiles. Desert Botanical Garden. http://www.dbg.org/Collections/cpc.html. Accessed: 2002.

Arizona Game and Fish Department. (1999). Plant Abstracts. Compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ. http://www.gf.state.az.us/frames/fishwild/hdms_site/Abstracts/Plants/abstracts%20-%20plants.htm. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Rondeau, R.J.; Van Devender, T.R.; Bertelsen, C.D.; Jenkins, P.D.; Wilson, R.K.; Dimmitt, M.A. . 1996. Annotated Flora and Vegetation of the Tucson Mountains, Pima County, Arizona. Desert Plants. 12, 2: 3-46.

Van Devender, T.R.; Bertelsen, C.D.; Rondeau, R.J. 1991. The saga of a rare plant. Sonorensis. 12, 1: 5-6.


Van Devender, T.R.; Bertelsen, C.D.; Wiens, J.F. 1994. Status report: Abutilon parishii S. Watson. Phoenix, AZ: Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services State Office.


Rice, K.C. 1994. Vegetation and Flora of the Superstition Wilderness Area, Maricopa and Pinal Counties, Arizona. [M.S. Thesis]: Arizona State University. Phoenix.

Rondeau, R.J. 1991. Vegetation and Flora of the Tucson Mountains, Pima County, Arizona. [M.S. Thesis]: University of Arizona. Tucson.

  This profile was updated on 1/13/2012
New Mexico
North Dakota
South Dakota
South Carolina
North Carolina
West Virginia
New Jersey
Rhode Island
New Hampshire
New York
New York