Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?)(Common Mallow, ETC.)

Malva sylvestris (Common Mallow) on 6-5-19, #583-23.

Common Mallow, High Mallow, Mallow, Tall Mallow, Cheeses, French Hollyhock, Miniature Hollyhock, Striped Mallow, ETC.

Malva sylvestris

MAL-vuh  sil-VESS-triss

Malva sylvestris L. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Mallow. The genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

As of 1-2-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 53 species in the Malva genus. It is a member of the plant family Malvaceae with 245 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

Distribution map of Malva sylvestris from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved on December 3, 2021.

The above distribution map for Malva sylvestris is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and blue where it has been introduced. The map for the United States and Canada from the USDA Plants Database is somewhat different.

The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.


Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) after I brought it home on 5-1-19, #564-48.

I was plant shopping at Wagler’s Greenhouse and found several of these plants. Their leaves looked like the plants that grow in front of the church I attend which I identified as Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’. I shouldn’t say they are ‘Zebrina’ because I am certainly not sure. They have been growing in the bed in front of the steps at church for YEARS and could have been put there by someone who got their start from someone else. You know, as a passalong plant… I had been tempted to bring a few home, but seeing how they spread I was somewhat reluctant. You have to have the right place for plants that spread or they can become a nuisance. I was thinking about putting them between the deck and basement steps on the east side of the house…

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 5-19-19, #575-30.

So, I wound up with a pot (among others) and took them to the counter to pay for my winnings. I asked Mrs. Wagler what it was and she said it was a Miniature Hollyhock. She explained the color of the flowers otherwise I might have put it back. I like Hollyhocks when they are in other people’s yard. After she described the flowers, I realized it was likely the same as the plants at church…

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 5-25-19, #576-78.

Now, let’s forget about the name ‘Zebrina’ for a minute… As you can see by the distribution map from Plants of the World Online, Malva sylvestris is a native wildflower from across the pond in several countries. They made their way to North America where they spread from one end to the other and even down into South America where they are considered an introduced wildflower. The flowers of the species do NOT look like the cultivar ‘Zebrina’. Besides ‘Zebrina’, there are several other popular cultivars of Malva sylvestris.

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 6-3-19, #581-7.

The dark green leaves are palmately lobed and grow in an alternate manner along the stems. The bigger leaves can grow to 5″ long and wide.

I don’t want to confuse you at this point, but Malva sylvestris var. mauritiana, now a synonym of Malva sylvestris, is the species with leaves like this. The lobes are pointed on  actual Malva sylvestris… Former infraspecific names (varieties and subspecies) for many species of plants are now considered synonyms of the species…

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 6-3-19, #581-8.

The flowers emerge in clusters from the leaf axils on the upper half of the plant.

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 6-3-19, #581-9.

Flowers of Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’ are various shades of link with maroon veins. The species and other cultivars have the same basic colors but different shades and… Well, just different…

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 6-3-19, #581-10.

Malva sylvestris has been known since ancient times and is considered the “type-species” for the genus. The leaves are edible and the plant (and seeds) are used as herbal remedies.

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 6-3-19, #581-11.

The plants branch out somewhat…

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 6-5-19, #583-22.

Information online say Malva sylvestris are either perennial or biennial. They do spread from seed… “They” also say these plants will flower themselves to death…

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 6-5-19, #583-23.

I didn’t get photos of their seeds, but they look like little wheels or discs…

Malva sylvestris (‘Zebrina’ ?) (Common Mallow) on 6-15-19, #590-13.

So, the Malva sylvestris did very well over the summer. One day I was walking by this plant and noticed the leaves were stripped bare by caterpillars… The caterpillars were already gone so I didn’t see what species they were. Then, later on, new plants started coming up.

They returned again in 2020 but not in 2021…

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and in other areas. The farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 250 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.


NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂