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Bright pink flowers of Cusick's Checkermallow (Sidalcea cusickii). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Leaves of Cusick's Checkermallow (Sidalcea cusickii). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Cusick's Checkermallow (Sidalcea cusickii) flowers in the garden with Large Leaf Avens. Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Cusick's Checkermallow (Sidalcea cusickii) flowers in the garden with Large Leaf Avens. Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.

Cusick's Checkermallow

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Sidalcea cusickii

This exceptionally showy wildflower is rare and endemic to Western Oregon, meaning this is the only place in the entire world where it grows! Similar to a hollyhock, it flaunts dense clusters of open-petaled flowers on tall spires. The flowers start out bright pink and fade to deep purple by early summer and are loved by native pollinators, especially butterflies.

  • Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous perennial herbaceous plant
  • Size at maturity: 18” - 72” tall, 8" - 12" wide
  • Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
  • Moisture requirements: moist to wet soil 
  • Bloom time: May - July
  • Growth rate/ease: easy to grow, moderate growth rate
  • Wildlife support: flowers attract and provide nectar to hummingbirds, adult butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators; overall plant supports beneficial and pest eating insects, is a caterpillar host plant and larval food source for native butterflies and moths
  • Native habitat/range: uncommon in sunny riparian zones and other open and moist habitats in Western, Oregon where it is endemic and considered to be rare or threatened in its natural habitat. Portland Plant List - no (though there are known stands in Washington and Multnomah counties, so the lack of listing is questionable). 
  • Special features & uses: landscape uses include meadowscapes and pollinator gardens 

Gardening with Cusick’s Checkermallow: This showy wildflower prefers lots of sun and moist soils, so plant it in a perennially moist area or expect to provide moderate summer water (i.e. deep watering, every couple weeks during the peak summer drought). The flower stalks can become quite tall, up to 6’, with a form similar to an ornamental loosestrife or snapdragon on steroids. Plant several in swaths in your habitat garden or meadowscape for the best visual effect and the most benefit for pollinators. Add other perennial wildflowers and bunchgrasses that can add biodiversity and help support its tall flower stalks from flopping over. 

Photo Credit 1: "Sidalcea cusickii" by BLM Oregon & Washington is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo Credit 2: "File:Sidalcea cusickii spring growth.jpg" by Flowersinmyyard is licensed under CC BY