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Malva neglecta

Common Name(s):
Buttonweed, Cheese Plant, Cheeseweed, Common mallow, Dwarf mallow, Mallow
Annuals, Edible Plants, Perennials

The common mallow grows in any areas where the soiil has been disturbed. It is from the family Malvaceae, which includes a number of desirable plants, most notably cotton, hibiscus, and okra. One species of this family (Althaea officinalis)is actually the original ingredient to make marshmallows.   It is considered an invasive weed in the United States.  It is often refered to as an annual, winter annual, or biennial plant because it can be found growing all year.

It has rounded fuzzy gray-green leaves.  It flowers in the summer with showy papery white, to light pink to light purple, 5 petaled flowers.  The petals are knotched at the tip so it may appear to have 10 petals.  It is often called Cheese weed or Cheese plant because the seeds form in a round flattened pod that looks like a wheel of cheese or a pumpkin.  There are 10-12 seeds per pod.  Mallows only reproduce by seed and their seeds have a very thick coat which slows germination but allows them to survive for quite some time in the soil.  If the seed coat gets nicked or damaged in any way, water can penetrate and the seeds will germinate.

Seedlings send out a taproot that quickly becomes woody and is difficult to remove by hand or even with tools.  Removing seedlings before they have less than four true leaves is best.  Removing plants before they flower and go to seed is essential to keeping the seeds out of the soil for future seasons. Solarization and flaming are not effective.

It is easy to confused the Common mallow with the Common Carolina geranium weed. The geranium weed has more deeply dissected leaves.

full sun, partial shade
green, gray green
2 feet
Flower Color:
white, pink, light pink, lavender, light purple
Almost every state in the US
The leaves and seeds are edible.
edible weed, weed, drought tolerant, white flowers, edible, full sun, partial shade, purple flowers, gray green leaves, pink flowers, lavender flowers

NCCES plant id: 2844

Malva neglecta Full plant
Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY - 2.0
Malva neglecta Full Plant
Harry Rose, CC BY - 2.0
Malva neglecta Full Plant
Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY - 2.0
Malva neglecta Flower
Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY - 2.0
Malva neglecta Fruit
Matt Lavin, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Malva neglecta Leaf
Matt Lavin, CC-BY-SA-2.0