This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Hairy or glabrous herbs with angular or lobed leaves and axillary flowers. Involucel of 3 distinct free bracts. Carpels not beaked, whorled, separating from a short conical axis, indehiscent. There are about sixteen species, from Europe, temperate Asia, and northern Africa, some of them widely. spread weeds of cultivation. Named from to soften, referring to the emollient nature of its species. M. sylvestris is a common native erect species with numerous axillary lilac-purple flowers; and M. rotundifolia is of decumbent habit.
1. M. mosehata. - A pretty indigenous perennial species with erect hairy stems 2 to 3 feet high, and deeply divided leaves with pinnatifid lobes. Flowers about 2 inches in diameter, rosy pink, rarely white, borne in clusters at the tops of the stems.
2. M, Mauritiana. - An erect annual with palmately lobed leaves and large white flowers striped with rose or violet. A native of North Africa.
3. M. lateritia, syn. Malvastrum. - A prostrate hirsute perennial with 3- to 5-lobed leaves and handsome brick-red flowers on long peduncles. A native of South America, blooming in Autumn.
4. M. crispa. - An annual plant with white flowers, more remarkable for its large rounded curled leaves than for its blossom. Native of Syria.