This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Tomentose or pilose herbs, with lobed or divided leaves, and axillary or terminal, solitary or racemose, perfect flowers. Involucels of 6-9 bractlets united at the base. Calyx 5-cleft. Petals 5. Stamen-column anther-bearing at the summit. Cavities of the ovary numerous, 1-ovuled; style-branches the same number as the ovary-cavities, stigmatic along the inner side; carpels numerous, indehiscent, 1-seeded, arranged in a circle around the axis. Seed ascending. [Ancient Greek, signifying to cure.]
About 15 species, natives of the temperate and warm parts of the Old World, the following typical.
Althaea officinalis L. Sp. Pl. 686. 1753.
Perennial, herbaceous, erect, 2°-4° high, branching, densely velvety pubescent. Leaves broadly ovate, acute or obtuse, dentate and generally 3-lobed, the lower ones often cordate; veins elevated on the lower surfaces; petioles 1/2'-1' long; flowers in terminal and axillary narrow racemes, pink, about 1'-1 1/2' broad; bractlets of the involu-cels 6-9, linear, shorter than the 5 ovate-lanceolate acute calyx-segments; carpels 15-20, tomentose.
In salt marshes, coast of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York; Pennsylvania, Michigan. Reported from New Jersey and Arkansas. Naturalized from Europe. Roots thick, very mucilaginous, used in confectionery, and in medicine as a demulcent. Summer. Mortification-root. Sweat-weed.
Althaea cannābina L., with digitately 5-parted leaves, has been found in waste places at Washington, D. C.
Althaea rosea L., the Hollyhock, is occasionally seen in waste places, spontaneous after cultivation.
2. MĀLVA [Tourn.] L. Sp. Pl. 687. 1753. Pubescent or glabrate herbs, with dentate lobed or dissected leaves, and axillary or terminal solitary or clustered perfect flowers. Calyx 5-cleft. Bractlets of the involucels 3 (rarely none). Petals 5. Stamen-column anther-bearing at the summit. Cavities of the ovary several or numerous, I-ovuled; style-branches of the same number, linear, stigmatic along the inner side. Carpels arranged in a circle, I-seeded, beakless, indehiscent. Seed ascending. [Greek, referring to the emollient leaves.]
About 30 species, natives of the Old World. In addition to the following, another is naturalized in California. Type species: Malva sylvestris L.
Leaves with 5-9 shallow lobes.
Petals 2-4 times the length of the calyx.
Petals 1-2 times the length of the calyx.
Leaves deeply 5-7-lobed.
Stem-leaves deeply lobed; carpels glabrous.
Stem-leaves 1-3-pinnatifid: carpels downy.