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Steven R. Hill, except as noted

Annual to tree; generally with stellate hairs, often with bristles or peltate scales; juice generally mucilage-like; bark fibrous. Leaf: generally cauline, alternate, petioled, simple [palmate-compound], generally palmate-lobed and/or veined, generally toothed, evergreen or not; stipules persistent or not. Inflorescence: head, spike, raceme, or panicle, in panicle or not (a compound panicle), or flowers >= 1 in leaf axils, or flowers generally 1 opposite a leaf or on a spur; bracts leaf-like or not; bractlets 0 or on flowering stalks, often closely subtending calyx, generally in involucel. Flower: generally bisexual, radial; sepals 5, generally fused at base, abutting in bud, larger in fruit or not, nectaries as tufts of glandular hairs at base; petals (0)5, free from each other but generally fused at base to, falling with filament tube, clawed or not; stamens 5–many, filaments fused for most of length into tube around style, staminodes 5, alternate stamens, or generally 0; pistil 1, ovary superior, stalked or generally not, chambers generally >= 5, styles or style branches, stigmas generally 1 or 1–2 × chamber number. Fruit: loculicidal capsule, [berry], or 5–many, disk- or wedge-shaped segments (= mericarps).
266 genera, 4025 species: worldwide, especially warm regions; some cultivated (e.g., Abelmoschus okra; Alcea hollyhock; Gossypium cotton; Hibiscus hibiscus). [Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 1998 Ann Missouri Bot Gard 85:531–553] Recently treated to include Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae, Tiliaceae. Mature fruit needed for identification; "outer edges" are surfaces between sides and back (abaxial surface) of segment. "Flower stalk" used instead of "pedicel," "peduncle," especially where both needed (i.e., when flowers both 1 in leaf axils and otherwise). —Scientific Editors: Steven R. Hill, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Unabridged references: [Alverson et al. 1999 Amer J Bot 86:1474–1486; Bayer et al. 1999 Bot J Linn Soc 129:267–303; Hill 2009 Madroño 56:104–111]

Key to Malvaceae


Tracey Slotta

Generally shrub, generally erect; hairs sparse to dense, stellate (stalked or sessile), simple, and glandular. Leaf: petioled; blade unlobed to 3–7-lobed, coarsely or shaggy-hairy to tomentose. Inflorescence: head- to panicle-like, flowers generally > 1 in leaf axils; bracts leaf-like or not, in involucre or not; bractlets 3, free, linear to lanceolate, persistent. Flower: calyx 5-lobed; petals 5, pale pink-purple or white (often ± purple when dry); petals generally > calyx, fused at base; stamens open prior to stigma maturation; style branches 5–14. Fruit: segments 5–14, 2–5 mm, separating, dehiscent, smooth, top hairy, beak 0. Seed: 1 per segment, brown to black.
12 species: California, northwestern Mexico. (Greek: soft shrub) Malacothamnus foliosus (S. Watson) Kearney reported but evidently not documented for California.
Unabridged etymology: (Greek: malakos, soft, thamnos, shrub)
Unabridged references: [Kearney 1951 Leafl W Bot 6:93–131; Fryxell 1988 Syst Bot Monogr:270–274]

Key to Malacothamnus

M. fasciculatus (Torr. & A. Gray) Greene CHAPARRAL MALLOW
Plant 1–5 m, branches slender; hairs sessile (stalked), white, sparse to velvety, woolly. Leaf: blade 2–8 cm, lobes 0 or 3–5, shallow to deep, stellate hairs ± equally dense abaxially, adaxially. Inflorescence: panicle-like; flowers generally 3–7 per node; leaf-like bracts few; flowering stalks < 1.5 cm, bractlets to 1 cm, 1/2 as wide, 1/2 calyx. Flower: buds acuminate; calyx 4–7(11) mm, 1/2 as wide, lobes acute, < 2 × tube; petals 1–3 cm; filament column < petals. Fruit: segments < 5 mm, deeply notched, brown.
2n=34. Varieties may be untenable, needs study. [Online Interchange]
Unabridged note: Expanded author citation: Malacothamnus fasciculatus (Nutt. ex Torr. & A. Gray) Greene.

M. fasciculatus var. nuttallii (Abrams) Kearney
Plant 2–3 m. Leaf: blade < 8 cm, thin, deeply 3–5-lobed, adaxially ± hairy. Inflorescence: flowers 3–5 per node. Flower: calyx < 1 cm, < 0.5 cm wide; petals 2.5 cm; filament column > 1/2 petals. Fruit: segments 3–5 mm.
Open chaparral; San Francisco Bay Area, Outer South Coast Ranges, Western Transverse Ranges. May–Jul [Online Interchange]

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Malacothamnus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015

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Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Malacothamnus fasciculatus var. nuttallii Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.