Malvaceae

This family is represented on campus by species from two very contrasting genera. The first is Malva, represented on campus by the Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) and the Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris). Both these plants are perennial herbs around 45-90 cm tall with conspicuous “mallow-type” flowers.

The flower of Musk Mallow, note the petals fused only at the base (Copyright Bill Davis 2012)

The distinctive feature of Malvaceae, in the strict sense, is the “mallow-type” flower with the stamens fused together around the carpels to form a tube. All Malva flowers have five petals and sepals.  The flowers of both M. moschata and M. sylvestris are pinky purple and the petals are joined (fused) only at the base. In M. sylvestris the flowers are attached to stalks in axillary clusters up the stem, the flowers are also half the size of M. moschata. M. moschata has larger, solitary flowers branching from the stems and ends in a terminal flower cluster.

Old flower heads of Musk Mallow showing the terminal inflorescence (Copyright Bill Davis 2012).

Malva moschata can be found growing under oak trees in the Harris garden.

The second genus on campus is Tilia (the Lime). This is a very different plant to the other members of the Malvaceae in the UK being a large tree.  Indeed, until recently this was its own family (Tiliaceae) but new molecular evidence shows that it should be included in the Malvaceae (Stace 2010). If you look at the flower you can see the five petals and sepal arrangement but no fused carpels. Tilia is represented on Campus by the often very large Lime tree hybrids (Tilia x europaea) which are planted in many places.

All rights are retained for all pictures by Bill Davis.

Reference:

 Stace, C.A. 2010. The New Flora of the British Isles. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press.

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