Mallow and Hibiscus Family

Herbs, lianas, shrubs, or trees, usually with stellate hairs on vegetative (and sometimes floral) parts, usually producing mucilage. Leaves alternate, simple, petiolate, often palmately lobed, or palmately-compound, entire to serrate, the teeth malvoid (i.e. with major vein unexpanded, and ending at the tooth apex), usually palmately-veined or occasionally pinnately-veined; stipules usually present. Inflorescence axillary, leaf-opposed or terminal, mostly many-flowered cymes or panicles, rarely flowers solitary or paired, with 3 bracts, one which is always sterile, while the others subtend lateral cymes or single flowers. Flowers bisexual or unisexual; epicalyx often present; sepals 5, free or united at base; petals 5, free, sometimes minute or absent; stamens usually numerous (rarely as few as 5), the filaments often united for most of their length into a tube (androgynophore), sometimes shortly adnate to petals, or free and opposite petals; anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits or terminal pores; staminodes sometimes present; ovary superior, simple or on a gynophore, placentation axile; carpels 1–many (often 5), fused; styles free or united, capitate or lobed. Nectaries composed of of dense glandular hairs on sepals or petals or androgynophore. Fruit usually a loculicidal capsule, schizocarp, nut, indehiscent pod, aggregate of follicles, drupe, or berry or samara.

About 243 genera with over 4200 species, almost cosmopolitan but commonest in the tropics; 68 genera and c. 760 species in Australia.

Now includes Bombacaceae, Tiliaceae and Sterculiaceae. This treatment follows Stevens, P.F. (2018, Angiosperm Phylogeny Website).

Source: Spencer, R. (1997). Malvaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Updated by: Val Stajsic, March 2018

Hero image
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Malvales
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
genus        Abutilon Mill.
genus        Alcea L.
genus        Alyogyne Alef.
genus        Brachychiton Schott & Endl.
genus        Corynabutilon
genus        Dombeya Cav.
genus        Entelea R.Br.
genus        Firmiana Marsili
genus        Fremontodendron Coville
genus        Guichenotia J.Gay
genus        Hibiscus L.
genus        Hoheria A.Cunn.
genus        Lagunaria (DC.) Rchb.
genus        Lasiopetalum Sm.
genus        Lavatera L.
genus        Malva L.
genus        Malvaviscus Adans.
genus        Phymosia Desv.
genus        Rulingia R.Br.
genus        Sidalcea A.Gray
genus        Sparrmannia L.f.
genus        Thomasia J.Gay
genus        Tilia L.