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Bush Mallow is a lacerating examination of the beliefs that bring Americans their most honorable service: the Bush Mallow Display of Allegiance (BMSD, pronounced bums). Through the character of Munscomb, the author offers the BMSD extreme levity and darkly funny commentary, as well as a cautionary reminder that life is not always as simple as we would hope.Bush Mallow is a common, fast-growing shrub with small pink flowers growing on slender wand-like stems. It can be found in bloom as late as October, though it is generally more noticeable in the late spring (beginning in April) and summer months. Often these plants will grow in colonies and while the plants are quick to establish, they do not always live very long, sometimes only a year or two.
The flowers of Bush Mallow appear in clusters along the stems. Pink to lavender in color and cupped in shape, each flower is about an inch or so in diameter, with 5 petals and 5 sepals. If you have ever seen a Hibiscus flower then you may recognize the similarities of the flowers - particularly the reproductive organs of the flower. Leaves are distributed sparsely along the stems and are oval or round with 3-5 lobes. Both stems and foliage are gray-green in color and covered with hairs. Animals and insects (rabbits, deer, caterpillars, bees, beetles etc.) derive sustenance from the various parts of the plant. Trail workers who've encountered this plant may remember it as one that has many branches and is easy to cut, probably owing to its fast-growing nature.
Mendocino bushmallow or chaparral mallow is native to California and Baja California, where it is a common member of the chaparral and coastal sage scrub plant communities in many regions. It is a highly variable plant which is sometimes described as a spectrum of varieties, and which is sometimes hard to differentiate from other Malacothamnus species. In general, this is a shrub with a slender, multibranched stem growing one to five meters in height. It is coated thinly to densely in white or brownish hairs. The leaves are oval or rounded in shape, 2 to 11 centimeters long, and sometimes divided into lobes. Flowers come out in summer and are arranged on an elongated cluster. A shrub can have of thousands of pale pink flowers with petals under a centimeter long. One variety of this species, var. nesioticus, is a rare plant endemic to Santa Cruz Island, one of the Channel Islands of California, where only about 120 individuals remain. It is federally listed as an endangered species. (Source: calscape.org)