Malva alcea Malva alcea Malva alcea

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Musk Mallow

Malva moschata

  • Written also: Musk-mallow
  • Family: Mallow Family – Malvaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 40–70 cm (15–30 in.). Stem sparsely hairy.
  • Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), 3–7 cm (1.2–2.7 in.) wide. Petals 5, rose-pink, sometimes white, notched. Calyx 5-lobed. Epicalyx of 3 elliptic leaves. Stamens numerous, stalks grown together surrounding the pistil like a tube. Pistil of several fused carpels. Flowers solitary or in small clusters borne in leaf axils. Flower slightly musk-scented.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked, with stipuli. Blade roundish–pentagonal, bright green, (3–)5–7-lobed, lobes 1–2-pinnately lobed, toothed.
  • Fruit: Schizocarp broad, flat, ring-like. Mericarps (carpels) smooth, densely hairy, hairs long and light-coloured, 1-seeded.
  • Habitat: Gardens, wastelands, field margins, meadows. Ornamental plant, cultivation left-over and escape.
  • Flowering time: July–September.

Two species of the Mallow family are grown as ornamental plants, due to their beautiful flowers. In Finland, musk mallow thrives best, particularly in man-made environments. The species occurs naturally in the Mediterranean climate zone. In Finland, the possibilities of musk mallow to survive outside well-tended flower beds are restricted to the most southern parts of our country. In the south-western archipelago and on the southern coast it has been found to survive for a long time in the garden of an abandoned cottage or to sometimes spread around a flower bed as a meadow plant. The long-time survival of these and a few other occurrences found further in the interior of South-Finland is uncertain. If in the future our climate becomes milder, musk mallow might become an established member of our natural flora, in the same way as has happened in the whole of Central Europe and in parts of southern Scandinavia.

Hollyhock Mallow

Malva alcea

Musk mallow closely resembles hollyhock mallow, also known as greater musk mallow, cut-leaved mallow or vervain mallow) which is also a popular ornamental plant. These two species are not easily distinguished, unless they can be compared side by side in a garden. The species can possibly be differentiated most easily by comparing the hairs of the stem which are shortish and star-like on hollyhock mallow, and longer and clearly standing out on musk mallow. On top of this, the bracts of hollyhock mallow’s epicalyx are broader and ovate, whereas musk mallow’s are narrowly elliptic.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family

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