This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
The Round-leaved or Dwarf Mallow is not so well known as me Common Mallow (M. sylvestris), though it is nearly as common. Its flowers are small, and not nearly so conspicuous as those of sylvestris. Like that plant it is found growing by the wayside and on waste places where garden refuse, etc., is dumped. Our three species of Malva are all perennials, and all possess tough fibrous stems. Those of rotundifolia are downy, and lie along the ground and bear many lobed, often toothed, leaves, whose general outline is circular. The flowers are clustered in the axils, and consist of a five-parted calyx, to which is attached a kind of involucre of three bracts, and five distant petals, their tips with a central notch. There are ten styles, the inner surfaces of which are stigmatic; they curl about in various directions, mingling with the numerous anthers, and so ensuring self-fertilization. The fruit consists of a large number of one-seeded carpels arranged in a circle, but easily becoming detached after ripening. Flowers June to September.
The other species are:
I. Common Mallow (M. sylvestris). Its stems are erect, somewhat hairy. Leaves more distinctly lobed. Flowers large, the petals heart-shaped, pale purple (mauve). The anthers mature before the stigmas, unlike M. rotundifolia, where both organs mature at the same time. This brings out an interesting point in their relations to insects, as shown by H. Miiller. The styles, instead of mingling with the anthers, hold themselves strictly above the drooping stamens, and self-fertilization is impossible. To secure cross-fertilization the flowers are large, and more showy than in rotundifolia, and attract many insects, which bring and carry pollen. June to September.
- Malvaceae. II. Musk Mallow (M. moschatus). Flowers not quite so large as the last, rosy, clustered at end of erect stems. Leaves divided into five to seven segments, which are nearly pinnate. Very slight odour of musk when the leaves are passed through the hands. Dry meadows and hedgerows. July and August. The Marsh-mallow belongs to another genus (Althaea).