Mallows are a cosmopolitan family that includes cotton and okra. Apart from these two plants, it is best known for its ornamentals (Hibiscus, hollyhock). The leaves are alternate and have stipules and, very often, star-like hairs. The flowers are radially symmetric, bisexual, and have 5 free sepals and 5 free petals. It is the arrangement of the stamens that makes the family easy to identify. First, there are lots of them but, more importantly, their filaments are united, forming a cylinder around the pistil, a cylinder with anthers coming out of various locations of its upper portion. The pistil is compound, with 5 or more cells in the ovary. The style is branched, making it relatively easy to determine how many cells are present. The fruits are button-like and composed of numerous segments. A family of over 1500 herbs, shrubs and small trees of both tropical and temperate regions.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of the Mallow Family
MOSTLY PINK FLOWERS. MEDIUM OR TALLER PLANTS
Iliamna rivularis Mountain Hollyhock Stout, leafy plant, 50-200 cm tall. Moist sites, foothills to subalpine.
Flowers rose-purple, 3-4 cm wide, with 5 broad petals, in elongated clusters.
Leaves alternate, maple-leaf-shaped, with 3-7 triangular lobes, toothed.
WHITE TO LIGHT PINK FLOWERS. LOW PLANTS
Malva neglecta Common Mallow Spreading annual, 20-60 cm tall, short-hairy. Fields, gardens, disturbed areas.
Flowers white-pink, about 2 cm wide, 1-3 from leaf axils, with 5 notched petals.
Leaves alternate, long-stalked, round to heart-shaped, round-toothed.
Sphaeralcea coccinea Scarlet Globemallow Low, spreading plant, 10-20 cm tall, gray-hairy. Dry, open sites, plains-montane.
Flowers orange, about 2 cm wide, short-stalked, in small clusters.
Leaves alternate, deeply cut into 3-5 palmate, wedge-shaped segments.
Alphabetical listing with links to presented species of the Mallow family: