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Key to families | Table of families and genera

Specimen numbers are hyperlinked to records in the Consortium of California Herbaria data view where possible. Taxa are hyperlinked to entries in the Jepson Interchange via the "[Online Interchange]" link.


Annual to shrub, generally taprooted; hairs stellate, simple, or 0. Stem: prostrate to erect, generally not rooting, herbaceous to soft-woody. Leaf: stipules persistent; petioled; blade round to reniform, shallowly to deeply palmate-5–7(9)-lobed or lobes 0, generally crenate to dentate. Inflorescence: raceme-like or generally flowers 1–10 in leaf axils; flowering stalks often jointed above middle; bractlets 3, free or fused ± 1/2. Flower: showy or not; calyx lobes ± = tube; petals ± 0.4–4.5 cm, generally shallowly notched at tip, pink, purple, rose-purple or white, dark-veined or not; anthers generally on upper 1/3–1/2 of filament tube; stigmas linear, on inner side of style branches. Fruit: ± disk-like; segments 6–15[20], indehiscent, generally edged; walls smooth or ribbed, puberulent or not; beak 0. Seed: firmly enclosed by, not readily separating from fruit wall, reniform, generally glabrous.
± 30–40 species: Europe, especially Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, few Australia, America. (Greek: mallow, tender) Some species reportedly TOXIC to livestock from selenium or nitrate concentration. [Ray 1998 Novon 8:288–295] Incl 3 California species formerly placed in Lavatera (Hill 2009).
Unabridged etymology: (Greek: malache or malos, mallow, tender)
Unabridged references: [Fryxell 1988 Syst Bot Monogr 255–261; 274–279, including Lavatera; Ray 1995 Plant Syst Evol 198:29–53; Ray 1998 Novon 8:288–295]
Unabridged note: Recently treated to include several species of Lavatera based primarily on molecular data (Ray 1995, 1998). Several other widely cultivated species may escape, including Malva alcea L., Malva moschata L.

Key to Malva

1. Shrub, stem generally 1–4 m; flowers showy, petals 2.5–4.5 cm; calyx > 10 mm; segments 6–8 ..... M. assurgentiflora

1' Annual to perennial herb (subshrub), stem 0.1–3 m; flowers showy or not; petals 0.4–3 cm; calyx < 10 mm; segments 6–15

2. Petals generally > 15 mm, showy, dark-veined; stem erect; bractlets free; calyx 6–8 mm; plant sparsely hairy ..... M. sylvestris

2' Petals generally < 15 mm, showy or not, dark-veined or not; stem prostrate to erect; bractlets free or ± fused; calyx 3–6 mm; plant generally sparsely hairy to glabrous

3. Bractlets linear to thread-like; calyx much larger in fruit, lobes spreading, not enclosing fruit; petals ± = calyx, <= 5 mm, ± pink to generally white; fruit segment outer edges thin-winged, toothed ..... M. parviflora

3' Bractlets widely linear, lanceolate, ovate, to rounded; calyx not much larger in fruit or if so, lobes generally enclosing fruit; petals ± > or >> calyx, > 5 mm, white to generally ± pink or ± purple; fruit segment outer edges not winged

4. Bractlets widely linear to narrowly lanceolate, free from each other and from calyx; fruit segments generally smooth or weakly ridged on back, outer edges ± rounded; petals pale lilac-pink to white, veins not dark ..... M. neglecta

4.a. Stem generally prostrate to ascending, 2–4(6) dm; leaf lobes (0)5–7, margin flat; flowers generally 2–6 in leaf axils; petals generally 2 × > calyx; flower stalk in fruit >> calyx; fruit puberulent on back ..... M. neglecta

4.a' Stem erect, (5)10–20(30) dm; leaf lobes generally 5, margin wavy; flowers 2–8 in leaf axils; petals generally ± > calyx; flower stalk in fruit < calyx; fruit glabrous on back ..... [M. verticillata var. crispa]

4' Bractlets widely lanceolate to ovate or ± round, bases fused to each other or to calyx; fruit segments generally net-veined or cross-ridged on back, outer edges sharp (rounded); petals rose or pale lilac-pink to white, veins generally dark

5. Bractlets generally fused to calyx, upper 1/2 free, widely lanceolate to ovate; stem generally decumbent or ascending, < 1 m; fruit segments strongly net-veined-pitted on back, outer edges sharp ..... M. nicaeensis

5' Bractlets generally fused to each other, upper 2/3 free, ovate to round; stem erect, generally > 1 m; fruit segments faint-net-veined or cross-ridged on back, outer edges ± sharp (rounded)

6. Involucel > calyx, leaves densely soft-stellate-hairy; petals rose to lavender with 5 dark veins; stem base generally woody ..... M. arborea

6' Involucel < calyx; leaves sparsely stellate hairy; petals pale pink to white generally with 3 dark veins; stem base not woody ..... M. pseudolavatera


Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) [year] Jepson eFlora, [accessed on month, day, year]
Citation for an individual treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] [year]. [Taxon name] in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, [URL for treatment]. Accessed on [month, day, year].
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