Baker’s wild hollyhock (Iliamna bakeri) is a native perennial endemic to Northeastern California and Southeastern Oregon. Because it is uncommon and its range is limited, the California Native Plant Society considers Baker’s wild hollyhock a rare plant. This member of the Mallow Family grows in volcanic soil and lava beds between 3,000 and 8,000 feet. These Baker’s wild hollyhocks were photographed in May along California Highway 89 west of Old Station (Shasta County).
The tall stems of Baker’s wild hollyhock grow from a woody caudex (rootstock) up to about 4 feet in height. The herbage is hairy throughout the plant. The leaves are maple-like and have thick petioles (stems). They are irregularly serrate and have 3 to 7 clefts.
The inflorescence is a panicle, opening from the bottom upward. Baker’s wild hollyhock flowers are large and cup-shaped. They occur as solitary flowers or in 2 to 3 flowered auxiliary clusters. The sepals are united at the base (connate). The five pink lavender petals surround a hairy looking stamineal column.
The dark brown seeds of Baker’s wild hollyhock are contained in a small, bristly capsule. The seeds germinate primarily is response to wildfires. This species is among the first to appear after a fire.
Arneson, Tepedino and Smith in a 2004 article noted that the native solitary bee Diadasia nitidifrons (a “chimney bee”) is a primary pollinator of Baker’s wild hollyhock.
The genus, Iliamna, is of Greek origin, but its significance is unknown. The California botanist Milo Samuel Baker (1868 – 1961) is honored by the species designation. Baker was a botanist who cataloged the flora of California’s North Coast among his many accomplishments.