common mallow

(Malva neglecta)

Conservation Status
common mallow
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed


Common mallow, also called dwarf mallow, is an exotic, weedy, low-growing, herbaceous plant. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. This and several other species of Malva have been introduced into and are now naturalized in North America. Of these, Malva neglecta is by far the most common. It occurs throughout the United States but is uncommon in the southeast. It is common in Minnesota. It is found on the banks of rivers and streams; on the margins of ponds and lakes; on roadsides and railroads; in fields, pastures, lawns, and farmyards; and in other open, disturbed areas.

Common mallow is an annual, biennial, or perennial forb that rises usually on several stems from a woody taproot. The stems may be branched or unbranched. When there are multiple stems, the outer stems are up to 40 (1 m) long. They creep along the ground (prostrate) but do not root at the nodes. The inner stems are shorter, 8 to 16 (20 to 40 cm) long, sometimes longer, and curve upward from the base (ascending). All stems are sparsely covered with both unbranched (simple) and star-shaped (stellate) hairs. The simple hairs are relatively stout. The stellate hairs are branched at the base into three or more relatively fine, widely spread arms. The stellate hairs wear away with age but the simple hairs persist on older stems.

The leaves are alternate, to 1 (15 to 35 mm) long, and to 1916 (10 to 40 mm) wide. The leaf stalks (petioles) are up to 7 long, 2 to 5 times as long as the blade. At the base of each petiole there is a pair of small appendages (stipules). The stipules are papery, narrowly triangular, to ¼ (3 to 6 mm) long, and (2.5 mm) wide. They are persistent throughout the growing season. The leaf blades are kidney-shaped or heart-shaped to almost round. They usually have 5 to 7 broad, shallow lobes. They may be flat or slightly wavy and 3-dimensional (crisped) near the margins. The upper and lower surfaces may be hairless or sparsely covered with stellate hairs, especially at the base. The margins are shallowly scalloped (crenate) to sharply toothed with outward-pointing teeth (dentate).

The inflorescence is a cluster of 2 to 6 flowers on long stalks (pedicels) in the leaf axils. When in flower, the pedicels are ascending and several times longer than the whorl of floral leaves at the base of the flower (calyx). When in fruit, the pedicels are drooping, flexible, and curved upward at the tip. At the base of each flower there are 5 small modified leaves (bractlets). The bractlets are linear to narrowly oblong, to 316 (3 to 1 mm) long, and 132 (1 mm) wide, shorter than the calyx.

Each flower is ½ to 1 wide. There are 5 outer floral leaves (sepals, together the calyx), 5 petals, numerous stamens, and 1 pistil. When in flower, the calyx is green, cup shaped, and to ¼ (4 to 7 mm) long. When in fruit it flattens out and slightly expands to 516 (8 mm) long. The lobes are triangular and remain green and herbaceous. They do not have a distinct network of veins. The outer surface is is covered with stellate hairs, and the margin has a fringe of short hairs. The petals are pale violet to white, notched at the tip, and to ½ (9 to 13 mm) long, about twice as long as the calyx. The veins are not dark but there is often a bold dark streak in the middle and one or two faint streaks on each side. The stalks (filaments) of the stamens are fused for most of their length around the pistil forming a round in cross section reproductive column. The anthers are white.

The fruit is a wheel-shaped, ¼ in diameter arrangement (schizocarp) of 12 to 15 one-seeded carpels (mericarps).It resembles a tiny wheel of cheese. This is the feature that gives the plant one of its common names, “cheeseweed”. Each mericarp is 116 (1.5 to 2.0 mm) long, smooth or weakly ridged, hairy on the back, and rounded on the outer edge.




8 to 16


Flower Color


Pale violet to white


Similar Species


Riverbanks, streambanks, pond and lake margins, roadsides, railroads, fields, pastures, lawns, farmyards, and in other open, disturbed areas




June to October


Pests and Diseases


Hollyhock Rust (Puccinia malvacearum)




Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28, 29, 30.




Native to Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. Introduced and naturalized in North America.




Common in Minnesota

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Malvales (mallows, rock-roses, and allies)  


Malvaceae (mallow and hibiscus)  
  Subfamily Malvoideae  
  Tribe Malveae  
  Genus Malva (mallows)  

Malva neglecta was formerly included, along with Malva pusilla and other species, within Malva rotundifolia. The latter name is no longer used.


Subordinate Taxa






Malva rotundifolia


Common Names





common mallow

dwarf mallow

roundleaf mallow









Growing upward at an angle or curving upward from the base.



The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.



A small, often secondary bract within an inflorescence; a bract that is borne on a petiole instead of subtending it; bracteole.



The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube. Plural: calyces.



The female reproductive organ of a flower, consisting of an ovary, styles, and stigmas.



On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



The split, usually one-seeded portion of a dry, multi-seeded fruit.



The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.



On plants: the stalk of a single flower in a cluster of flowers. On insects: the second segment of the antennae. On Hymenoptera and Araneae: the narrow stalk connecting the thorax to the abdomen: the preferred term is petiole.



On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.



Laying flat on the ground.



A dry fruit formed from a compound ovary that splits into two or more parts (mericarps) at maturity.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



Star-shaped. Stellate hairs have several or many branches radiating from the base.



A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

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Other Videos
  COMMON MALLOW (Malva neglecta)
BYUI Applied Plant Science Department

Sep 6, 2019

How to identify Common Mallow (Malva neglecta)

This plant is common mallow, a member of the mallow family that is native to Europe and which has become common around much of the world. It can grow as an annual, winter annual, or biennial, and flowers throughout the summer.

The plant has branched, low-lying stems that sprawl outward. The stems are smooth and green with a purplish coloring.

The leaves have long, thin petioles, and are somewhat heart-shaped with 5 to 7 light lobes. The leaves are wavy, roughly textured and widely serrated along their margins. They are dark green and may have purple veins, and have a covering of hairs on bother their upper and lower surfaces.

The flowers are colored white to lavender, and often colored streaks that range from pink to blue. The flowers appear singly from the leaf axils. After pollination, they will produce round wheel-shaped fruits with the seeds arranged around the center.

The plant has a large, woody taproot that reaches deep into the ground and s very resilient. It only reproduces via seed.

Common mallow prefers well-drained, dry soils and some shade, but will grow wherever there is disturbed soil. It is common in fields, gardens, and cultivated crop areas.

This plant is edible.


Weeds of the West, 5th Edition (1991) by Tom D. Whitson, published by the Western Society of Weed Science

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources IPM – Weed Gallery

United States Department of Agriculture – Plant Database

  How to Identify Cheeseweed - Colorado Botany - Malva neglecta
Colorado Botany

Aug 13, 2016

Cheeseweed – Malva neglecta – A weed related to Hollyhocks and Hibiscus that grows in disturbed areas. The common name, Cheeseweed, refers to the fruit which looks like a wheel of cheese. Learn how to identify Cheeseweed in this Colorado Botany video.

  Identifying Common Mallow

Jun 30, 2019

Common mallow (Malva neglecta) is easy to identify, with round fruits that exhibit cheese-like wedges. There is usually lots of it (depending on where you are). For more info see the links below.

Common Mallow (identification, distinguishing features, flowers, leaves, height, habitat & edible parts):

Root Harvesting in Autumn

#commonmallow #cheeseweed #Malvaneglecta




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Lakeville, MN

Spring Lake Park Reserve





Created: 2/10/2021

Last Updated:

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