Peachysteve's picture

Common Mallow

Observed: 6th August 2013 By: PeachystevePeachysteve’s reputation in PlantsPeachysteve’s reputation in PlantsPeachysteve’s reputation in PlantsPeachysteve’s reputation in PlantsPeachysteve’s reputation in Plants

I spotted this plant while walking up Thorpe Cloud, a small steep sided limestone hill. There were many clumps within 10m of the summit. Below that I couldn't find any.
My first thought was Malva sylvestris but I couldn't find any images of the leaves with these dark markings in the centre.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris) interacts


Peachysteve's picture


My first thought was common mallow but I couldn't find any examples with the dark colouring in the centre.

Ambroise's picture

I'd say the combination of

I'd say the combination of leaf shape and the dark dot is diagnostic (Beware of Geranium zonale but the location makes it less likely!)

lavateraguy's picture

The dark spot at the junction of the blade and petiole ...

... occurs quite widely in Malva sect. Malva. Malva sylvestris is much the commoner, but in the case of a prostrate small-leaved plant like this, it isn't easy to eliminate Malva neglecta. But those traits are plausibly attributed to the environmental conditions.

[It's an odd location for any Malva sect. Malva - they like nutrient rich ground, and I don't suppose that upland limestone grassland qualifies.]

Peachysteve's picture


Malva aren't common in my area so my experience is limited and my attention has been more to the flowers when I have seen them elsewhere.
I have just looked at images of M. neglecta leaves and can see the dark spot on many examples.
It is an odd location and made more odd that I saw no other M. sylvestris while walking in the surrounding area. Just these few plants on the top of this very exposed and rocky hill.

lavateraguy's picture

You can tell the species of Malva sect. Malva apart ...

... by the leaf indumentum - I did get to the point of identifying seedlings by touch - but in the case of Malva neglecta and Malva sylvestris you may need a hand lens. Most Malva sylvestris are distinguishable from Malva neglecta by size and habit (and of course the flowers are easy to tell apart) but there is a residue of ambiguous plants.

Stace implies that the purple spot (on the basal leaves) is more prominent in Malva sylvestris.

lavateraguy's picture

I came across a small-leaved mallow ...

... by a roadside today (in an area with plenty of Malva sylvestris), so I tried a hand (compass) lens out on it. I could see that there were hairs present, but I couldn't make out any detail of their structure.