Malva sylvestris

Mallow Family [Malvaceae]

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16th June 2009, Colwyn Bay, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Grows especially near the sea, and it can't get much nearer than this without getting wet feet.

2nd July 2011, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Grows up to a metre high.

2nd July 2011, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A cluster of un-branched stems with flowers on shortish stalks up the stem.

23rd June 2007, the vast wastelands of Salford, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have five lilac coloured petals with mauve coloured veins.

2nd July 2011, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Un-furled flowers have petals wrapped around forming a cone. Un-like two Tree Mallows which have only three sepals, Common Mallow has five as do many other Mallows. Stems have longish white hairs.

2nd July 2011, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The petals have a smoothly-curved 'nick' and are distinctly asymmetric, like several other five-petalled actinomorphic flowers (such as Lesser Periwinkle, Greater Periwinkle, Water Avens and others).

31st May 2007, Walney Island, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Like all Mallows, the flowers have a double row of sepals, wide ones cupping te flower or fruit, and a much narrower set behind. Common Mallow, along with many other, but not all Mallows, have five in each row. The leaves often have a dark splodge at the base just like those of Cloudberry (and similar in shape too).

2nd July 2011, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The fruits are discs with a toroidal outer (like a Polo mint) plugged with a central darker core, this gives the plant it's nick-name of 'Cheesecake'. They are cupped by the five broad hairy sepals. Leaves are toothed and palmately lobed; upper ones may have a longer central lobe.

2nd July 2011, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The petals by transmitted light. Asymmetric 'propeller' type form plainly discernible.

2nd July 2011, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A central pillar holds aloft a bunch of stamens with indigo coloured anthers, similar to the way Radio Telescopes have the aerial at the focal point of the paraboloid.

2nd July 2011, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Lilac coloured stamens with indigo coloured anthers bearing white pollen grains.

26th Aug 2004, Deganwy, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are palmately lobed, crinkled, sometimes Ivy-like and with somewhat bluntish teeth. The lime-green discs are un-ripe fruits, or 'cheesecakes'.

2nd July 2011, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The obverse of the leaf with prominent ribs, a little like those of Lady's-Mantle.

Some similarities to : some other Mallows.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The fruits or nutlets are net-veined but usually hairless and the flowers purplish-pink with darker veins.



Common Mallow contains the Anthocyanins Malvin (a diglyoside) and MalonylMalvin , the naphthoquinone Malvone A which is a Phytoalexin. Both Anthocyanins and NaphthoQuinones are coloured and many Mallow species are still used in dye production.

Malvone A is a sesquiterpene naphthoquinone, is a phytoaexin and in Mallow species is increased when Mallow is infected by the fungus Verticillium dahlia. The Malvone A has anti-fungal properties against this fungus.

Both Malvin and MalonylMalvin are Anthocyanins which colour the flowers. Malvin has a; anthocyanidin moiety (shown in cyan) bound to two glucose units (shown in red), the anthocyanidin in this instance being Malvidin. In the presence of Hydrogen Peroxide H2O2 (a compound that can be produced in plants) Malvin will oxidise to Malvone A (shown above). Malvin is not only found in some Mallows, but also occurs in Carrot, Beet, Maize, Onion, Potato, Tomato, Turnip,Rhubarb, Strawberry, Black Current, Cranberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Pear and several other plants, as an example.

MalonylMalvin is Malvin with a Malonyl group (shown in green) attached, which both adds extra stability to the molecule whilst at the same time changing its resonance frequency (and hence its colour absorption - which inversely affect the colours it reflects). Your Author can find no information on the actual colour of Malvin or MalonylMalvin, but a good guess would be purple or some shade of red. But in the case of Anthocyanins, the colour also depends upon what the value of the pH is around the molecule; the colour of anthocyanins varies depending upon acidity or alkalinity.

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Malva sylvestris

Mallow Family [Malvaceae]

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