John Pilkington's picture

Musk Mallow

Observed: 27th September 2013 By: John PilkingtonJohn Pilkington’s reputation in PlantsJohn Pilkington’s reputation in PlantsJohn Pilkington’s reputation in PlantsJohn Pilkington’s reputation in PlantsJohn Pilkington’s reputation in Plants

Found amongst other late-flowering plants in roadside hedgerow.
Title amended - see comments

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Musk-Mallow (Malva moschata) interacts


John Pilkington's picture

Musk Mallow

Hi Wildlife Ranger - agree that the flowers look more like Musk Mallow, especially the twisted nature of the emerging ones - I initially thought the lobes on the leaves looked too wide, but I haven't seen many of either species to be sure. I am therefore thinking that your ID is a better one than mine. John

lavateraguy's picture

Malva moschata is heterophyllous ...

... that is the leaves vary depending on what part of the plant they are borne. In Malva moschata the basal leaves are scarcely lobed, while the upper stem leaves are deeply dissected. What you have are typical lower stem leaves.

John Pilkington's picture


Many thanks lavateraguy - great feedback -much still to learn - John

lavateraguy's picture

Vegetatively ...

... cranesbills make decent buttercup-mimics. After several years I've learned to tell them apart, but I couldn't put my finger on a rule to distinguish palmate-leaved buttercups from palmate-leaved cranesbills - rather I've learned the jizz of each species.

They also make decent mallow-mimics, both vegetatively and florally. Both cranesbills and the British mallows have schizocarpous fruits, but the individual elements - the mericarps - have very different appearances, so there's no trouble separating them in fruit.

The classic distinguishing feature of mallows is the fusion of the stamens into a column, bearing many anthers. In Geranium the filaments aren't fused, but they are flattened and held so that they give the appearance of a column - to the degree that in the mid-18th century the Columniferae of some authors included cranesbills as well as mallows (and camellias). However Geranium consistently has 10 (rarely 5) stamens in contrast to the "many" stamens of mallows, usually forming a distinctive boss of anthers (not shown well in your specimen, where the flower is too old, and the anthers have been lost).

Many mallows have an epicalyx - an additional whorl of floral parts below the calyx. When present this allows you to distinguish them from cranesbills, but a considerable number of mallow species, e.g. Sidalcea are exinvolucellate.

John Pilkington's picture

Many Thanks Lavateraguy

Once again, many thanks for the feedback - plenty there to digest (and hopefully remember) - most appreciated - John

Wildlife Ranger's picture

Musk Mallow

No problem John _ the leaves are remarkably similar the flowers a little different - its a good sequence - as you say the larger leaf lobes drew my eye to it - flowering toward the season
A good selection of Autumnal plants of recent John

Best Wishes & Happy snapping


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