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Tree Lavatera

Malva thuringiaca

  • Name also: Garden Tree-mallow
  • Latin synonym: Lavatera thuringiaca
  • Family: Mallow Family – Malvaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 100–150 cm (40–60 in.). Stem densely stallate-haired, grey.
  • Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), 5–8 cm (2–3.1 in.) wide. Petals 5, usually pink, red-veined, notched. Calyx 5-lobed. Epicalyx 3-lobed, lobes united at the base. Stamens numerous, stalks grown together surrounding the pistil like a tube. Pistil of several fused carpels. Flowers solitary borne in leaf axils.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked, with stipuli. Blade kidney-shaped, slightly 3–5-lobed, middle lobe long, lobes ovate, toothed.
  • Fruit: Schizocarp with about 20 carpels.
  • Habitat: Waysides, field margins, gardens. Ornamental plant, existing from former cultivation or rarely an escape.
  • Flowering time: July–September.

Tree lavatera grows naturally on waysides and brook sides in Central Europe up to great heights. In Finland it is an indigenous perennial flower traditionally cultivated in old gardens. For a long time it has been scarce, but this tough plant has survived in old gardens. Occasionally the species has spread as a meadow plant in dry, sunny locations. As the interest in old, modest and easy-care perennials has again increased, tree lavatera, too, has returned to garden centres. The species flowers abundantly with pretty pink flowers, which attract bees and also butterflies to some extent.

Tree lavatera is a close relative of the indoor plant beloved by Finns, hibiscus. At a glance, it can be confused with musk mallow (M. moschata), but its flowers are often even bigger. The species can also be differentiated by checking the epicalyx. With tree lavatera, the bracts of the epicalyx have grown together from the base, whereas the bracts of the mallows are completely separated.

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

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