An Illustrated Guide to ARIZONA WEEDS

The University of Arizona Press

LITTLE MALLOW, cheeseweed



LITTLE MALLOW-Malva parviflora L.

DESCRIPTION-A stout, bushy annual or biennial, branched and spreading from the base, 1 to 3 feet high, from a short thick taproot, reproducing only by seeds. The large soft leaves are alternate, almost circular, often with a red spot at the base, and usually 5 to 7 shallow lobes, the edges toothed. The leaves are 2 to 5 inches broad, on stalks more than 4 to 10 inches long.

The inconspicuous flowers are nearly stalkless, in small clusters at the base of the leaf stalks, and at the top of the plant. There are 5 bluish or pinkish petals about 1/4 inch long. The outer green flower parts or sepals persist with the 5 lobes spreading under or about the disk of 11 or 12. This disk resembles a round cheese divided into 11 or 12 sections, from which it derives one of its common names. When mature, these sections separate into 11 or 12 seedlike sections or carpers. Each carper is almost circular, with a notch on 1 edge, one-seeded, flattened, with radiating ridges on the 2 sides and a sharply roughened back. The reddish brown seeds are similar in shape, but the surface is smooth, about 1/12 inch long.

DISTRIBUTION-Introduced from Europe, little mallow is common throughout the state in somewhat moist loam soil. Especially troublesome in irrigated lands, alfalfa, small grains, citrus orchards, yards, ditchbanks, flower beds, waste places, and city streets; 100 to 8,500 feet elevation; flowering the year around, mostly November until June at the lower elevations. The plant and seeds are reported to cause pink egg whites when eaten by hens.

COMMON MALLOW, roundleaf mallow-Malva neglecta Wallr.

DESCRIPTION-Very similar to little mallow, but the stems are spreading or nearly prostrate, and the petals are larger, 1/3 to 2/3 inch long. Found in the same type of places as little mallow, but mostly in northern and central Arizona; flowering May to September.

Copyright (c) 1972 The Arizona Board of Regents

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