The Malvaceae, or the mallows, are a family of flowering plants estimated to contain 243 genera with 4225+ species. Well-known members of this family include okra, cotton, and cacao. The largest genera in terms of number of species include Hibiscus (300 species), Sterculia (250 species), Dombeya (250 species), Pavonia (200 species), and Sida (200 species).
Taxonomy and nomenclature
The circumscription of the Malvaceae is very controversial. The traditional Malvaceae sensu stricto comprise a very homogeneous and cladistically monophyletic group. Another major circumscription, Malvaceae sensu lato, has been more recently defined on the basis that molecular techniques have shown the commonly recognised families Bombacaceae, Tiliaceae, and Sterculiaceae, which have always been considered closely allied to Malvaceae s.s., are not monophyletic groups. Thus, the Malvaceae can be expanded to include all of these families so as to compose a monophyletic group. Adopting this circumscription, the Malvaceae incorporate a much larger number of genera.
This article is based on the second circumscription, as presented by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. The Malvaceae s.l. (hereafter simply "Malvaceae") comprise nine subfamilies. A tentative cladogram of the family is shown below. The diamond denotes a poorly supported branching (<80%).
It is important to point out the relationships between these subfamilies are still either poorly supported or almost completely obscure, so the circumscription of the family may change dramatically as new studies are published.
The English common name 'mallow' (also applied to other members of Malvaceae) comes from Latin malva (also the source for the English word "mauve"). Malva itself was ultimately derived from the word for the plant in ancient Mediterranean languages. Cognates of the word include Ancient Greek μαλάχη (malákhē) or μολόχη (molókhē), Modern Greek μολόχα (molóha), modern Arabic: ملوخية (mulukhiyah) and modern Hebrew: מלוחיה (molokhia).
Leaves and stems
Leaves are generally alternate, often palmately lobed or compound and palmately veined. The margin may be entire, but when dentate, a vein ends at the tip of each tooth (malvoid teeth). Stipules are present. The stems contain mucous canals and often also mucous cavities. Hairs are common, and are most typically stellate.
The flowers are commonly borne in definite or indefinite axillary inflorescences, which are often reduced to a single flower, but may also be cauliflorous, oppositifolious, or terminal. They often bear supernumerary bracts. They can be unisexual or bisexual, and are generally actinomorphic, often associated with conspicuous bracts, forming an epicalyx. They generally have five valvate sepals, most frequently basally connate, with five imbricate petals. The stamens are five to numerous, and connate at least at their bases, but often forming a tube around the pistils. The pistils are composed of two to many connate carpels. The ovary is superior, with axial placentation, with capitate or lobed stigma. The flowers have nectaries made of many tightly packed glandular hairs, usually positioned on the sepals.
Self-pollination is often avoided by means of protandry. Most species are entomophilous (pollinated by insects).
A number of species are pests in agriculture, including Abutilon theophrasti and Modiola caroliniana, and others that are garden escapes. Cotton (four species of Gossypium), kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), cacao, kola nut, and okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) are important agricultural crops. The fruit and leaves of baobabs are edible, as is the fruit of the durian.
- Florissantia, an extinct Cenozoic genus
- Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
- "Angiosperm Phylogeny Website". Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- Judd, W. S., C. S. Campbell, E. A. Kellogg, P. F. Stevens and M. J. Donoghue (2008). Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach (third ed.). ISBN 0878934073.
- Douglas Harper. "mallow". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- Khalid. "Molokheya: an Egyptian National Dish". THe Baheyeldin Dynasty. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
- Baum, D. A., W. S. Alverson, and R. Nyffeler (1998). "A durian by any other name: taxonomy and nomenclature of the core Malvales". Harvard Papers in Botany 3: 315–330.
- Baum, D. A.; Dewitt Smith, S.; Yen, A.; Alverson, W. S.; Nyffeler, R.; Whitlock, B. A.; Oldham, R. L. (2004). "Phylogenetic relationships of Malvatheca (Bombacoideae and Malvoideae; Malvaceae sensu lato) as inferred from plastid DNA sequences". American Journal of Botany 91 (11): 1863–1871. doi:10.3732/ajb.91.11.1863. PMID 21652333.
- Bayer, C. (1999). "Support for an expanded family concept of Malvaceae within a recircumscribed order Malvales: a combined analysis of plastidatpB andrbcL DNA sequences". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 129 (4): 267–303. doi:10.1006/bojl.1998.0226.
- Bayer, C. and K. Kubitzki 2003. Malvaceae, pp. 225–311. In K. Kubitzki (ed.), The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, vol. 5, Malvales, Capparales and non-betalain Caryophyllales.
- Edlin, H. L. (1935). "A Critical Revision of Certain Taxonomic Groups of the Malvales Part Ii1". New Phytologist 34 (2): 122–143. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.1935.tb06834.x.
- Judd, W. S.; Manchester, S. R. (1997). "Circumscription of Malvaceae (Malvales) as Determined by a Preliminary Cladistic Analysis of Morphological, Anatomical, Palynological, and Chemical Characters". Brittonia 49 (3): 384–405. doi:10.2307/2807839. JSTOR 2807839.
- Maas, P. J. M. and L. Y. Th. Westra. 2005. Neotropical Plant Families (3rd edition).
- Perveen, A.; Grafström, E.; El-Ghazaly†, G. (2004). "World Pollen and Spore Flora 23. Malvaceae Adams. P.p. Subfamilies: Grewioideae, Tilioideae, Brownlowioideae". Grana 43 (3): 129. doi:10.1080/00173130410000730. ISSN 0017-3134.
- Tate, J. A., J. F. Aguilar, S. J. Wagstaff, J. C. La Duke, T. A. Bodo Slotta and B. B. Simpson (2005). "Phylogenetic relationships within the tribe Malveae (Malvaceae, subfamily Malvoideae) as inferred from ITS sequence data". American Journal of Botany 92 (4): 584–602. doi:10.3732/ajb.92.4.584. PMID 21652437. (abstract online here).
Bombacaceae were long recognised as a family of flowering plants or Angiospermae. The family name was based on the type genus Bombax. As is true for many botanical names, circumscription and status of the taxon has varied with taxonomic point of view, and currently the preference is to transfer most of the erstwhile family Bombacaceae to the subfamily Bombacoideae within the family Malvaceae in the order Malvales. The rest of the family were transferred to other taxa, notably the new family Durionaceae. Irrespective of current taxonomic status, many of the species originally included in the Bombacaceae are of considerable ecological, historical, horticultural, and economic importance, such as balsa, kapok, baobab and durian.
Recent phylogenetic research has shown that Bombacaceae as traditionally circumscribed (including tribe Durioneae) is not a monophyletic group. Furthermore, Bombacaceae is no longer recognized by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group I 1998, II 2003 and Kubitzki system 2003 at the rank of family, the bulk of the taxa in question being treated as subfamily Bombacoideae within family Malvaceae sensu lato. A close relationship between Bombacaceae and Malvaceae has long been recognized but until recently the families have been kept separate in most classification systems, and continue to be separated in many references, including the reference work in classification of flowering plants: Heywood et al. 2007  and Takhtajan 2009, but have been lumped together in Angiosperm Phylogeny Website.
Heywood et al.  say "although closely related to Malvaceae, molecular data supports their separation. Only pollen and habit seem to provide a morphological basis for the separation." On the other hand they say: "One approach is to lump them [the families in the core Malvales, including Bombacaceae] all into a 'super' Malvaceae, recognizing them as subfamilies. The other, taken here, is to recognize each of these ten groups as families."
As circumscribed in its traditional sense, the family Bombacaceae includes around 30 genera (25 genera after Heywood et al. ) with about 250 species of tropical trees, some of considerable girth, so called "bottle trees". Many species grow to become large trees, with Ceiba pentandra the tallest, reaching a height to 70 m. Several of the genera are commercially important, producing timber, edible fruit or useful fibres. The family is noted for some of the softest hardwoods commercially traded, especially balsa, Ochroma lagopus. The fruit of the durian, Durio zibethinus is famous, tasting better than it smells. At one time the fibre from the kapok tree, Ceiba pentandra was used in making lifebuoys. The baobabs or "bottle trees" (Adansonia spp.) are important icons in certain parts of Africa, Australia and Madagascar, noted for their immensely stout trunk development, a mechanism for enhancing water storage.
- Adansonia L.
- Aguiaria Ducke
- Bernoullia Oliv.
- Bombax L.
- Catostemma Benth.
- Cavanillesia Ruiz & Pav.
- Ceiba Mill.
- Chiranthodendron Larreat. (according to Kubitzki in subf. Bombacoideae  and considered more closely related to Fremontodendron by Baum et al. 2004 )
- Eriotheca Schott & Endl.
- Fremontodendron Coville (according to Heywood et al. )
- Gyranthera Pittier
- Huberodendron Ducke
- Matisia Bonpl.
- Neobuchia Urb.
- Ochroma Sw.
- Pachira Aubl.
- Patinoa Cuatrec.
- Pentaplaris L.O.Williams & Standl. (according to Kubitzki in subf. Bombacoideae, but incertae sedis )
- Phragmotheca Cuatrec.
- Pseudobombax Dugand
- Quararibea Aubl.
- Scleronema Benth.
- Septotheca Ulbr.
- Spirotheca Ulbr. (according to Heywood et al. )
- Genera of tribe Durioneae excluded from Bombacaceae after Heywood et al. 2007 and that should be included in Durionaceae 
- Genus that should be excluded from Bombacaceae after Heywood et al. 2007 and that be included in Malvaceae s. s.
- Camptostemon Mast.
- Genera considered synonym after Kubitzki 2003 
- Bombacopsis Pittier = Pachira Aubl.
- Chorisia Kunth = Ceiba Mill.
- Rhodognaphalon (Ulbr.) Roberty = Pachira Aubl.
- Genus not treated in Kubitzki 
- Heywood, V. H., Brummitt, R. K., Culham, A. & Seberg, O. (2007). Flowering Plant Families of the World. Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada: Firefly Books. ISBN 1-55407-206-9.
- Takhtajan, Armen (2009). Flowering Plants (Second edition ed.). Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-9609-9. ISBN 978-1-4020-9608-2.
- "Angiosperm Phylogeny Website - Malvales". Missouri Botanical Garden.
- Kubitzki, K. & Bayer, C., (2003).The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants Vol. 5: Malvales, Capparales and Non-betalain Caryophyllales
- Baum, D. A., DeWitt Smith, S., Yen, A., Alverson, W. S., Nyffeler, R., Whitlock, B. A. & Oldham, R. A. (2004). American Journal of Botany 91(11):1863-1871.
- Mabberley, D.J. (1997). The plant-book (2nd edition ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-41421-0.
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