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Overview

Comprehensive Description

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Vervain Mallow is very similar in appearance to another mallow that is often cultivated, Musk Mallow (Malva moschata). Vervain Mallow differs from the latter species by having leaves that are less deeply lobed, floral bracts that are ovate in shape rather than oblong-linear, and mericarps that have hairless outer sides rather than pubescent sides. Another species, High Mallow (Malva sylvestris), differs from the preceding mallows by having leaves that lack secondary lobes and its flowers are often a deeper shade of pink or purple. All of these Eurasian species have attractive flowers.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This is a perennial plant about 1½-3½' tall that branches occasionally. The stems are light green, angular or terete, and glabrous to slightly pubescent. Alternate leaves occur along these stems; they have long petioles. Individual leaves are 1½-3¼" long and similarly across; they are palmately lobed (3-7 primary lobes each). Individual lobes are irregularly pinnatifid and dentate. Generally, the primary lobes of the leaves are moderately deep, while the secondary lobes are more shallow; lower leaves are less deeply lobed than upper leaves. The upper leaf surface is yellowish green to dark green and glabrous, while the lower leaf surface is light green and glabrous to slightly pubescent. The petioles are as long as the leaves or longer; they are light green and glabrous to slightly pubescent. The upper and lateral stems terminate in clusters of flowers. Each flower is 1½-2½" across, consisting of 5 white to pink petals, 5 light green sepals, and a white columnar structure with the reproductive organs. Individual petals are obcordate-obdeltate with somewhat ragged outer margins; sometimes they have fine radiating veins that are rosy pink. The sepals are about one-third the length of the petals, ovate in shape, and densely pubescent; they are joined together at the base. Underneath the sepals of each flower, there are 3 sepal-like bracts that are ovate in shape and densely pubescent; they are a little shorter than the sepals. Pedicels and peduncles of the flowers are light green, densely pubescent, and rather short (less than 2" in length). The blooming period occurs during the summer for 1-2 months. Individual flowers are short-lived. Each flower is replaced by a ring of mericarps (hardened structures containing one or more seeds). For this species, each mericarp contains a single seed. The mericarps are about ¼" long, reniform, and hairless. This plant reproduces by reseeding itself.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The introduced Vervain Mallow has reportedly naturalized in Kane County of NE Illinois (see Distribution Map). However, some naturalized populations of Malva moschata (Musk Mallow) within the state may be Vervain Mallow instead, as these two similar species are often confused with each other. Vervain Mallow was introduced into North America from Eurasia as an ornamental garden plant. It is still cultivated in gardens, from where it rarely escapes. Habitats of naturalized populations consist of roadsides and waste areas where there is a history of disturbance.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The introduced Vervain Mallow has reportedly naturalized in Kane County of NE Illinois (see Distribution Map). However, some naturalized populations of Malva moschata (Musk Mallow) within the state may be Vervain Mallow instead, as these two similar species are often confused with each other. Vervain Mallow was introduced into North America from Eurasia as an ornamental garden plant. It is still cultivated in gardens, from where it rarely escapes. Habitats of naturalized populations consist of roadsides and waste areas where there is a history of disturbance.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

According to Müller (1873/1883) in Germany, the flowers of Vervain Mallow are visited primarily by honeybees, Andrenid bees, and other bees. He also reported bee flies (Bombyliidae) and skippers as floral visitors. These insects obtained primarily nectar from the flowers. Some insects feed destructively on the foliage and other parts of Vervain Mallow and other Malva spp. (mallows). These insect feeders include Aphis gossypii (Cotton Aphid) and the caterpillars of the following butterflies, skippers, and moths
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Malva alcea L.

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Malva alcea

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, moist to dry-mesic conditions, and soil containing loam or sandy loam. The leaves often become yellowish in response to hot dry weather and they are occasionally damaged by foliar disease.
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Wikipedia

Malva alcea

Malva alcea (greater musk-mallow, cut-leaved mallow, vervain mallow or hollyhock mallow) is a plant in the mallow family native to southwestern, central and eastern Europe and southwestern Asia, from Spain north to southern Sweden and east to Russia and Turkey.[1][2][3]

Description[edit]

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 50–125 cm tall, with stems covered in stellate hairs, meaning they branch at the free end into several strands. The leaves are 2-8 cm long and 2-8 cm broad, palmately lobed with five to seven blunt lobes; basal leaves on the lower stem are very shallowly lobed, those higher on the stems are deeply divided, with digitate finger-like lobes. The flowers appear singly near the apex of corymbose racemes growing from the leaf axils in summer to early fall. They are 3.5–6 cm diameter, with five sepals and five bright pink petals, and have no scent. The bracteoles that make up the epicalyx are ovate and wide at the base where they are fused with the calyx. The fruit is a hairless disc-shaped schizocarp 4–8 mm diameter, containing several seeds, the seeds individually enclosed in a glabrous or hairy mericarp. It has a chromosome count of 2n=84.[3][4][5][6]

Gallery[edit]

Flowers of Malva alcea
Close-up on flower of Malva alcea
Flower of Malva alcea
Leaf of Malva alcea

Ecology[edit]

It is most common in drier soils in thickets, along paths and in waste places. Natural hybrids with the closely related Malva moschata are occasionally found. In central Europe it grows at altitudes of up to 2,000 m.[3]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

It has been widely grown outside of its native range as an ornamental plant. Several cultivars exist such as 'Fastigata', an upright form, and 'Alba', a white flowered form. In some areas, such as the northeastern United States, the plant has escaped from cultivation and become naturalised. It is very similar to, and often confused with Malva moschata.[7]

Synonyms[edit]

  • Malva abulensis Cav.
  • Malva bilobata Merino in Brotéria
  • Malva bismalva Bernh. ex Lej.
  • Malva fastigiata Cav.
  • Malva italica Pollini
  • Malva lagascae Lázaro Ibiza & Andrés Tubilla
  • Malva lobata Cav.
  • Malva morenii Pollini
  • Malva ribifolia Viv.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Flora Europaea: Malva alcea
  2. ^ Med-Checklist: Malva alcea
  3. ^ a b c Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2
  4. ^ (German) Schmeil, O., Fitschen, J., & Seybold, S. (2006). Flora von Deutschland, 93. Auflage. p. 422. Quelle & Meyer Verlag, Wiebelsheim. ISBN 3-494-01413-2.
  5. ^ Flora of NW Europe: Malva alcea
  6. ^ Malvaceae Pages: Musk Mallows (section Bismalva)
  7. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
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