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Among European languages a large proportion of vernacular names can be traced to a few original names - the Latin malva and tilia, the Classical Greek hibiskos and althaia, and the Proto-Germanic *lind. These referred to the genera Malva, Tilia, Althaea, Althaea and Tilia respectively. Names derived from these originals are now applied not only to the European species of mallow (tribe Malveae) and lime (tribe Tilieae), but also to many related plants round the world, including some classified in different tribes. Another common root found in names of malvaceous plants is hemp, consequent on the usage of these plants as a source of fibre.
The Latin malva is retained in Italian, Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese. In Romanian and Moldavian (and Venetian) it has become nalba and in French mauve. It has been borrowed by other European languages, unchanged in Dutch and Swedish, as malvo in the artificial language Esperanto, as mályva in Hungarian, unchanged or as malvikki in Finnish, as mallow in English (via Old English mealuwe), and malve in German. It is widely applied to species in tribe Malveae, and occasionally farther afield.
Cognates of the English lime and linden are widely used in Germanic languages for Tilia. In Danish and Swedish it is lind, in Dutch linden, in German linde. The Finnish lehmus may be a borrowing of this root.
In Romance languages derivatives of the Latin tilia are used; tiglio in Italian, tilo in Spanish, tei or teiul in Romanian and Moldavian.
Derivatives of the Classical Greek hibiskos include the German eibisch (for Althaea) and words in many languages for Hibiscus and allied genera.