Kenya Natural History Guide >>> Plants >>> Malvaceae >>> Malva parviflora


Malva parviflora

Cheeseweed, Malva parviflora, a garden weed in the Rift Valley of Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Growing as a weed in a vegetable garden at Eldoret, Kenya. December 2012.

HERB: If good growing conditions persist, this often small herb, can reach a meter or more tall with a woody base. The roots contain a mucilaginous material that has been used in foods such as marshmallow.

FLOWERS: The small flowers are rarely noticed, open just briefly, and are often concealed below the leaves. There are five pink or white petals surrounding the stamen tube.

LEAVES: The leaves appear to have been folded into a fan. Five or so lobes give the leaf a hand-like shape in outline, i.e. palmate.

RANGE: Grows during the moist temperate seasons. Native to northern Africa, Asia and Europe and introduced pretty much all over, often as a troublesome weed.

FRUIT: The fruit is shaped like a cheese wheel, and maybe this is the source of the common name.


Malvaceae -- Mallow Family

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Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Created on 24 February 2013