There are several records regarding the traditional use of this species for food - all of them place its range in western or northwestern N. America (particularly Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska). However, the plant is not native to that area, being found instead in central and southern N. America (mainly in Texas and Oklahoma). It is possible that the records on edibility are correct and the range was given in error, though it is also possible that the plant was wrongly identified.
This species has been confused in the past with Callirhoe digitata Nutt. (itself having edible roots), though that species also has a more southerly and easterly range.
Callirhoe involucrata (Torr. & A.Gray) A.Gray, which also has an edible root, is found in northwest N. America and so is a likely candidate.
Callirhoe pedata has also been commonly confused with Callirhoe leiocarpa R.F.Martin in literature, though this latter species also has a more southerly range and is an annual rather than perennial.
One final possibility - Callirhoe alcaeoides (Michx.) A.Gray is closely related to Callirhoe pedata and hybridizes with it where their ranges overlap in Oklahoma. This species, which has a long taproot, is also found in northwest N. America. The taproot of this last species is likely to be edible even though we have found no literature to support this[
Callirhoe digitata alba Waterf.
Callirhoe digitata stipulata Waterf.
Callirhoe pedata compacta Sprenger
Malva pedata (Nutt. ex Hook.) Torr. & A. Gray
Nuttallia pedata Nutt. ex Hook.
Sesquicella pedata Alef.
Common Name: Tall Poppy-Mallow
Callirhoe pedata is an erect to weakly erect, herbaceous perennial plant growing from a thick, tuberous taproot; it produces a cluster of usually 2 - 5 stems (occasionally to 15 stems) 15 - 90cm tall[
The plant is probably harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is grown as an ornamental in gardens.
Southern and central N. America - Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas
Prairies, plains, woods and mesquite groves[
]. Open oak or oak-pine woods, mesquite woodlands, margins of woods, prairies, roadsides; at elevations from 100 - 500 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Callirhoe pedata is hardy to about -15°c[
Prefers a light rich sandy loam and a sunny position[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
A polymorphic species[
Plants produce a deep taproot and resent root disturbance - they should be planted into their final positions as soon as possible[
Slugs are strongly attracted to this plant and can destroy even established plants by eating out all the young shoots in spring[
Root - cooked[
There is some doubt about this record - see the notes above on Nomenclature
Seed - sow outdoors or in a cold frame. Plants resent root disturbance so the seed is best sown in situ in mid spring[
], though the slugs will have a field day if you do not protect the plants[
]. If seed is in short supply then sow it in pots in a cold frame, putting a few seeds in each pot, and plant the pots out in early summer once the plants have put on at least 15cm of growth. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 6 months at 15°c[