The Malva Pages:
Weedy Mallows (section Malva, in part)

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flower of Malva nicaeensis

Malva linnaei M.F. Ray
Malva neglecta Wallr.
Malva nicaeensis All.
Malva parviflora L.
Malva pusilla Sm.
Malva verticillata L.
Malva ×adulterina Wallr.

These are a group of small-flowered annual or biennial species which share the characteristic of possessing only 3 coloured veins in each petal. Lavatera mauritanica would appear to have originated as a hybrid between Lavatera arborea and one of this group, perhaps Malva parviflora.

These species are generally of little horticultural merit, but the larger flowered forms of Malva linnaei are potential subjects for the garden, and Malva verticillata Crispa group is grown as an architectural and foliage plant as well as a salad vegetable.

flowerMalva linnaei M.F. Ray.
English (Australian) Cretan Hollyhock
English (British) Cornish Mallow, Smaller Tree Mallow
English (New Zealand) Cretan Mallow
English (American) Cretan Mallow
French lavatére de Cręte, Malvones, mauve de Cręte
Spanish Malva(loca), malvones
Catalan malva, malva crčtica
Portuguese malva-bastarda
Italian malva di creta, malvone di Creta
Sicilian marva
German Kretische Strauchpappel
Swedish falsk rödmalva, narrmalva
Finnish Rikkamalvikki
Czech slézovec krétský
Welsh Morhocysen Fychan
Esperanto lavatero rozkolora, malvo rozkolora

This plant is more commonly met under the name of Lavatera cretica L. It has recently been reclassified as Malva linnaei on the basis of morphological and molecular data, the traditional placement, on the basis of the presence of fused bracteoles, not being representative of its true relationships. See the page on the Malva alliance for further discussion of the classification of true mallows and lavateras.

Detailed description with photo-illustrations.

Malva linnaei M.F. Ray is an erect hairy annual or biennial found in the Near East and Mediterranean region, including North Africa and the Canary Islands, and in Western Europe north to Brittany and Cornwall, growing to 2-4 feet in height. It is also found (naturalised?) in Madeira and the Azores, and is naturalised in a number of other regions. It bears small lilac flowers, in clusters in the leaf axils, in early summer. The flower size is variable, some populations bearing flowers of a size typical of the weedy mallows, and others bearing larger flowers comparable in size to smaller flowered forms of Malva sylvestris.


photographs in the Lavatera Gallery.
photograph at Department of Botany, U of Catania
photographat Belles Fleurs de France
photograph at Biodiversidad Iberobalear y Canaria

Malva neglecta Wallr.
English (International) Dwarf Mallow
Spanish Malva enana
Italian Malva domestica
Romanian cas, Casul popii, nalba-marunta, nalba mica
German Gänse Malve, käsepappel
Dutch Klein Kaasjeskruid
Swedish skär kattost
Norwegian Smĺkattost
Finnish Katinjuustonmalva
Estonian harilik kassinaeris
Czech sléz prehlížený
Slovak slez nebadaný
Slovene Navadni slezenovec
Croatian korovni sljez
Serbian mali slez
Hungarian Kerek levelü mályva, papsajtmályvának
Welsh Hocysen Bychan
Esperanto Malvo malgranda
Korean Nan-jaeng-i-a-uk

Malva neglecta is a hairy stemmed annual bearing clusters of small (¾"-1¼") pink to white flowers. The stems may be either erect, ascending or procumbent. It is native to North Africa, central and southern Europe and south west Asia.

It is naturalised in, among other places, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Lesotho.

Synonyms of Malva neglecta include  Malva rotundifolia auct. non L and Malva vulgaris Fries.

Malva neglecta Wallr. var. perennans Post

A perennial variety recorded from the Levant.

flowerMalva nicaeensis All.
English (International) French Mallow, Southern Mallow
English (Australian) Mallow of Nice
English (American) Bull Mallow, Cheeseweed
French mauve de Nice
Spanish malva
Catalan Malva, Vauma
Italian Malva scabra
German Nizza-Malve
Dutch nizzakaasjeskruid
Swedish franskmalva
Finnish Rivieranmalva
Slovene Primorski slezenovec
Croatian gorski sljez
Maltese Hobbejza mitfija

Detailed description with photo-illustrations (in preparation)

Malva nicaeensis is a annual, or less commonly biennial, species found in Macaronesia, the Mediterranean region, south west Asia including the western parts of Persia, Transcaucasia and southern Russia. It is also naturalised or casual in a number of regions, including California, Montana and New Jersey in the United States, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Tasmania, Victoria, Kangaroo Island in South Australia, and Swanland in Western Australia.

It grows from 1 to 5 feet high, with an erect central stem and spreading (often procumbent) side shoots. The leaves are orbicular to reniform (broader than long). The stems are glabrous, or bear a sparse covering of deflexed hairs. It bears small whitish flowers in clusters of 3 or 4 in the leaf axils.

Synonyms of Malva nicaeensis include  Althaea nicaeensis Alef., Malva arvensis C.Presl, Malva circinatta Viv., Malva excelsa C.Presl, Malva montana Grossh. and Malva setosa Cav..

Malva parviflora L.
English (Australian) Marshmallow, Small-flowered Mallow
English (British) Least Mallow
French mauve ŕ petites fleurs
Spanish Malva de flor chica, malva de flor menuda, Malva de flor pequeńa
Spanish (Mexico) malva, malva de quesitos, quesitos
Catalan Malva, Malva de fulla petita, Vauma
Portuguese malva-pequena
Portuguese (Brasil) Guanxuma, sardinheiras, sidas
Italian Malva minore, malva selvatica
German Kleinblütige Malve
Dutch Kleinbloemig Kaasjeskruid
Swedish kvarnkattost
Czech sléz malokvetý
Maltese Hobbejza tal-warda zghira

Malva parviflora is an erect, sparsely hairy stemmed annual, bearing dense fasciculate clusters of small (½"-¾") pink or whitish flowers in the leaf axils. It is native to southern Europe, North Africa and south west Asia, extending as far as Turkestan and Afghanistan, and is naturalised in many other places, including all the Australian states, the Northern Territory and Lord Howe Ialand, most of South Africa, Lesotho, Nambia and Zimbabwe

Synonyms of Malva parviflora include  Althaea mareotica Alef., Althaea microcarpa Alef., Althaea parviflora Alef., Malva bivoniana C.Presl, Malva flexuosa Hornem., Malva juvenalis Delile, Malva mareotica Delile, Malva microcarpa Desf., Malva microcarpa Ledeb., Malva musiana Sennen, Malva obtusa Torr. & A.Gray, Malva polycarpa Sennen and Reissantia parviflora (N.E.Br.) N.Hallé.

Malva parviflora var. oxyloba

Malva parviflora var. oxyloba is a variety found in Palestine, Syria and Cyprus, differing from the type in the possession of very sharply serrate leaf margins, a non-accrescent calyx with narrower sepals, and a generally smaller and slenderer habit. Although markedly different in appearance from the type it is fully interfertile with it, and experimental genetic work indicates that the majority of the differences are under the control of a single dominant gene.

Synonyms of Malva parviflora var. oxyloba include  Malva oxyloba Boiss..

Other varieties of Malva parviflora have been recognised. Var. microcarpa (with smaller fruits) and var. cristata intergrade with the type, and are therefore not distinguishable entities. Var.arguta Post, from Lebanon, has acutely dentate leaf lobes. This might represent the heterozygous cross between var. oxyloba and the type.

Malva pusilla Sm.
English (British) Small Mallow
Dutch Rond Kaasjeskruis
Swedish vit kattost
Norwegian Dvergkattost
Finnish Kylämalva
Estonian ümaralehine kassinaeris
Czech sléz nizounký
Slovene Drobnocvetni slezenovec
Hungarian apró mályva
Esperanto Malvo rondfolia
Chinese yuan ye jin kui
Korean Dung-geun-ip-a-uk

Malva pusilla is native to temperate and Mediterranean Europe, Turkey, Caucasia and northwest Iran, and is naturalised in many places, including Lesotho.. It is an erect hairy stemmed annual, bearing small, pale lilac, flowers in the leaf axils.

Synonyms of Malva pusilla include  Althaea borealis Alef., Malva borealis Wallman, Malva crenata Kit., Malva lignescens Iljin and Malva rotundifolia L..

Malva verticillata L.
English (British) Chinese Mallow
English (American) Cluster Mallow, Whorled Mallow
French mauve frisée, mauve verticillée
Spanish malva verticillade
German Quirl-Malve
Dutch Kranskaasjeskruis
Swedish kransmalva
Finnish Poimulehtinen malva
Estonian männas-kassinaeris
Czech Sléz Krmný, sléz preslenitý
Latvian mieturu malva
Malagasy Fiandrilavenona, Miakany, Minkana
Chinese ye kui
Korean A-uk

Detailed description with photo-illustrations (in preparation).

Malva verticillata is an annual species which bears fasciculate clusters of circa 6 flowers on short stalks in the leaf axils, in a rough whorl around the stem, hence the botanical name. It is native to the Baltic region, European Russia, Afghanistan, northwest Pakistan and China, and is naturalised in many places, including Lesotho.

Synonyms of Malva verticillata include  Althaea crispa Alef., Althaea verticillata Alef., Malva abyssinica A.Braun, Malva alchemillifolia Wall., Malva brevifolia Gilib., Malva crispa (L.) L., Malva meluca Graebner, Malva mohileviensis Downar, Malva montana Forssk., Malva neilgherriensis Wight, Malva olitaria Nakai, Malva physaloides Hochst., Malva pulchella Bernh., Malva verticillata var. crispa L., Malva verticillata var. olitoria and Malva verticillata var. rafiqii Abedin.

Malva verticillata Crispa group
English (International) Curled Mallow
French mauve crépue
Spanish malva crespa
German Krause Gemüsemalve
Swedish krusbladskattost, krusmalva
Norwegian Kruskattost
Finnish Kurttulehtimalva
Estonian kähar kassinaeris
Czech sléz kaderavý
Chinese dong kui

This is a variety of Malva verticillata which has attractively curled leaf margins, and is grown as an ornamental and as a salad vegetable.

Malva ×adulterina

Malva ×adulterina is the hybrid between Malva neglecta and Malva pusilla. It has been recorded in the wild from temperate regions of central and eastern Europe. [1]


  1. C.A. Stace, Hybridisation and the Flora of the British Isles (1975)


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© 2004, 2006, 2007 Stewart Robert Hinsley