Mallow Family Malvaceae

The Mallow family includes Alcea (Hollyhock), Sidalcea,  Hibiscus, Musk Mallow, Althaea (Marsh Mallow) and Lavatera. The family Malvaceae is named after the Greek word malakos meaning soft or soothing after the Common Mallow’s use as an anti-inflammatory for skin disorders.

Flowers are radially symmetrical with 5 petals but their main distinguishing feature is that the many stamens are formed into a staminal tube by the fusing of their filaments. The tube surrounds the many styles which which protrude from the top of the tube. The anthers mature first, shed pollen and then wither  to leave the receptive stigmas at the top of the styles exposed. Fine white hairs protect the nectar secreting pits at the base of the petals. 

 

Wood Forget-me-not flowers
Russian Comfrey plant

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Woodbridge’. The species Hibiscus syriacus is native to China.

common heliotrope flowers

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Bluebird’. This cultivar was first produced in France in the 1950s.

vipers bugloss flowers

China Rose Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is not known in the wild but it has been cultivated for centuries. Thought to originate in Asia. Grown in a conservatory or greenhouse in Britain.

borage flower

Common Hollyhock Alcea rosea. Introduced to Europe from China as a garden plant, is now found growing wild in waste places. 

Wood Forget-me-not flowers
Sidalcea ‘Elsie Heugh’ is a cultivar of the Prarie Mallow Sidalcea malviflora
Green Alkanet flowers

Musk Mallow Malva moschata is a wild flower native to Britain, Europe and southwestern Asia. The flower has a musky odour when it opens in July to August. 

Siberian Bugloss flowers

Marsh Mallow Althaea officinalis is a wild flower native to Britain that grows in salt marshes near the sea

lungwort flower

Annual Mallow Lavatera trimestris is a species from the Mediterranean region from which many popular garden varieties have been developed. It was introduced to Britain in 1633.