Mallow (Malva parviflora and M. sylvestris)

Malva parviflora (c) Harry Rose CC BY-NC 2.0 License

Family: Malvaceae

Growth Habit: Mallows are very competitive weeds that range from low growing ground covers to a small shrub. They have mid to light green leaves with dominant veins, are gently serrated at the edges and are pleated in appearance. M parviflora develops as a rosette-like clump with stem leaves up to 70mm in diameter while M. sylvestris develops as a loose rosette-like clump with leaves up to 100 mm in diameter. The easiest way to distinguish them is by their flower.

Type of Plant: Perennial. M. parviflora may grow to 500mm, whilst M. sylvestris may reach up to 1m.

Flowers: Both species bloom in summer.

M. parviflora flower (c) Forest and Kim Starr

M. parviflora  The inflorescence is axillary, the flowers being some 5 to 6 mm in diameter with five notched pink petals.

M. sylvestris flower c) Meneerke Bloem GNU License

M. sylvestris The flowers are axillary and grow several together.  They are 25 to 40 mm in diameter with five petals which are rose-purple in colour with dark veins and have notched tips.

Fruit/Seed: Several wedge-shaped seeds are produced per flower.

Dispersal: Reproduces purely by seed.

Distribution: Mallows can be found on cultivated land, vineyards and orchards, roadsides and gardens. Both species are widespread in Tasmania.

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania.

Weed Impact:

  • Mallows may form very competitive infestations in perennial crops, such as vineyards and orchards.
  • Once established, they can be very difficult to eradicate.

For further information contact the Department of Primary Industry, Water and Environment, Tasmania.

Control Methods:

  • Grubbing (all year). Remove entire plant by hand or garden implement.
  • Herbicide (summer, spring and autumn). Herbicides registered in Tasmania include triclopyr, glyphosate and fluroxypyr.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.