Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Annual, biennial or perennial herbs or undershrubs, erect or procumbent, glabrous or hairy. Leaves reniform to suborbicular cordate, entire, lobed or dissected. Flowers axillary, solitary or fascicled, rarely in terminal racemes. Epicalyx segments 3, free, small. Calyx cupular to rotate, 5-lobed, lobes deltoid, acute. Corolla longer than calyx or scarcely exceeding, rotate to infundibular, mostly red, pink, violet, purple or white, rarely blue; petals obtriangular, cuneate, notched at apex. Staminal column antheriferous towards apex. Ovary 10 - 14 carpellate, carpels arranged in a ring around a central axis, ovules one in each carpel; styles as many as carpels, obliquely calvate, united to about half their length; stigmas decurrent on adaxial sides of styles. Schizocarps enclosed in peristent calyx, discoid, with a depressed centre; mericarps reniform, flattened, awnless, usually dorsally and laterally prominently veined, sometimes muricate, indehiscent but separating at maturity. Seeds reniform, ascending.

Temperate and subtropical regions of the Old World, some species are naturalized in the New World, ca 30 species; 7 in India.


1a. Epicalyx segments ovate or ovate-oblong 2
b. EpicaJyx segments linear to lanceolate 4
2a. Schizocarps glabrous; petals 3 - 5 times longer than calyx 3
b. Schizocarps hairy; petals less than 3 times longer than calyx 1. Malva ambigua
3a. Flowers more than 5 in each fascicle, rarely less; petals 3 - 5 times longer than calyx; retuse; stems glabrescent, stout 2. Malva mauritiana
b. Flowers 1 - 4 in each fascicle;petals usually 3 times longer than calyx, emarginate; stems pubescent to glabrescent, comparatively slender 6. Malva sylvestris
4a. Dorsal surface of mericarps distinctly reticulate with keeled angles 5. Malva parviflora
b. Dorsal surface of mericarps smooth or finely ridged, with angles not keeled 5
5a. Flowers lax in fasicles; pedicels 1 - 3 cm long; petals 9 - 15 mm long; calyx slightly accrescent 4. Malva neglecta
b. Flowers compact in fascicles; pedicels 3 - 10 mm long; petals 7 - 10 mm long; calyx distinctly accrescent 6
6a. Plants glabrescent; staminal column glabrous or simple hairy towards tips; fruiting calyx 10 - 15 mm long 7. Malva verticillata
b. Plants pubescent; staminal column retrose hairy throughout; fruiting calyx less than 10 mm long 3. Malva mohileviensis

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