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Malva L.

Sp.Pl. 2:687 (1753)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Marshmallows. Family Malvaceae.

Tribe Malveae.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs (usually with simple to stellate indumentum). Plants unarmed. Annual, or biennial, or perennial; to 0.2–1 m high. Self supporting, or climbing; stem twiners. Mesophytic. Not heterophyllous. Leaves medium-sized; alternate; spiral; petiolate; non-sheathing; simple. Leaf blades dorsiventral; dissected (5–7-lobed); orbicular; palmately lobed; palmately veined; cordate. Mature leaf blades adaxially pubescent; abaxially pubescent. Leaves with stipules (stipules ovate). Stipules persistent. Leaf blade margins crenate, or serrate. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present; complex hairs present. Complex hairs stellate. Extra-floral nectaries absent.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Entomophilous.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; axillary; in racemes, or in panicles. Inflorescences axillary; flowers in axillary clusters, forming an irregular raceme. Flowers pedicellate; small, or medium-sized; regular; 5 merous; tetracyclic. Hypogynous disk absent. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 -whorled; isomerous. Calyx present; 5; 1 -whorled; gamosepalous; lobed; lobulate (5-lobed); erect, or spreading; hairy; valvate; exceeded by the corolla; regular; persistent; accrescent, or non-accrescent. Calyx lobes ovate, or triangular. Epicalyx present (of free bracteoles, shorter than the calyx). Corolla present; 5; 1 -whorled; polypetalous (adnate to the base of the staminal column); glabrous abaxially; glabrous adaxially; with contrasting markings (different coloured tips); white, or red, or pink, or purple, or violet, or blue (rarely). Androecium present. Androecial members indefinite in number. Androecium 50–100 (i.e. ‘many’). Androecial members adnate; all equal; coherent (connate; the filaments fused in a column surrounding the style); 1 - adelphous (the tube attached to the petals); 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens (or rather, half-stamens, each having only a half anther). Stamens 50–100. Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; unilocular. Gynoecium 8–12 carpelled. The pistil 8–12 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious to eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary plurilocular; 8–12 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 8–12; free; simple; apical. Stigmas 8–12 (decurrent on the adaxial side of the style). Placentation axile. Ovules 1 per locule.

Fruit and seed features. Fruit 8–10 mm long; non-fleshy; green (or brownish green or brown); hairy, or not hairy; a schizocarp (disc-shaped, dehiscing into in dehiscent mericarps arranged in a whorl with a depressed centre). Dispersal unit the mericarp (flattened, reniform in outline). Seeds 1 per mericarp.

Geography, cytology, number of species. World distribution: Africa, Europe, Asia and northern temperate America. Native of Australia. Not endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. South-West Botanical Province. 2n = 24 for M. hispanica; 2n = 42 for M. aegyptia, M. moschata, M. neglecta, M. nicaensis, M. oxyloba, M. parviflora, M. pusilla, M. sylvestris and M. tournefortiana; 2n = 76 for M. pusilla and M. verticillata. A genus of c. 25–40 species; 1 species in Western Australia; 0 endemic to Western Australia.

Etymology. From the Latin for "mallow"; name applied to several similar plants.

S. Hamilton-Brown, 8 September 2016

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, Judy; Marchant, Neville; Lewington, Margaret; Graham, Lorraine 2002. Flora of the south west, Bunbury, Augusta, Denmark. Volume 2, dicotyledons. Australian Biological Resources Study.. Canberra..
  • Grieve, B. J.; Blackall, W. E. 1998. How to know Western Australian wildflowers : a key to the flora of the extratropical regions of Western Australia. Part II, Dicotyledons (Amaranthaceae to Lythraceae). University of W.A. Press.. Nedlands, W.A..
  • Ray, Martin Forbes 1998. New combinations in Malva (Malvaceae: Malveae).
  • Marchant, N. G.; Wheeler, J. R.; Rye, B. L.; Bennett, E. M.; Lander, N. S.; Macfarlane, T. D.; Western Australian Herbarium 1987. Flora of the Perth region. Part one. Western Australian Herbarium.. [Perth]..