Donaldson, S. and Hanson Mazet, W. 2010, A Northern Nevada Homeowner’s Guide to Identifying and Managing Common Mallow, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-10-21

Other common names

Mallow, little mallow, cheeseweed, buttonweed

Scientific name

Malva neglecta

Family

Malvaceae

Description

Mallow grows in a rounded, bushy or spreading plant with tough stems and a deep taproot.

Growing common mallow

Typical plant growing in a lawn. Photo by S. Donaldson.

Leaves

Hairy geranium‐shaped leaves attach to the stem with a petiole (stalk). Leaves have 5 to 7 shallow lobes with round teeth and veins that radiate out from the base.

Flowers

Small (about 2/5 of an inch in diameter), white to pale pink or lavender‐striped and not very noticeable. Flowers have 5 petals with crinkly edges. Blooms from summer to fall.

Common mallow flower

The flower is small and has five petals. Photo by S. Donaldson.

Fruit

Looks like a miniature cheese wheel with wedge-shaped sections.

Common mallow fruit

The fruit looks like a wrapped wheel of cheese. Photo by S. Donaldson.

Roots

Grows a large, tough taproot.

Common mallow taproot

The young plant has a well-developed taproot. Photo by S. Donaldson.

Native to

Europe

Where it grows

Lawns, gardens, parks, roadsides, pastures and other disturbed or unmanaged sites

Life cycle

Winter annual (sprouts in the fall to early winter) to short‐lived perennial (grows back each year from the roots)

Reproduction

Reproduces by seed

Common Mallow seedling

The second set of seedling leaves have the characteristic geranium shape. Photo by W. Hanson Mazet.

Control methods

Common mallow is best controlled when young. Mature plants are difficult to remove mechanically due to the large taproot.

Mechanical

Dig, hoe or pull young plants. Plants that are mowed or break off at the crown will regrow. The tough taproot makes pulling mature plants difficult, if not impossible.

Cultural

Thick mulches can help prevent seed germination. Plant desirable vegetation that will shade the area and reduce germination and growth of young plants. Keep turf healthy and vigorous to compete with the weed.

Biological

None commercially available. Mallow may concentrate nitrates to levels that can be toxic to cattle.

Chemical

Try broadleaf‐selective herbicides on very young plants. Pre‐emergence herbicides can be used to manage existing seed banks. Glyphosate is generally not effective on this plant.

References

  • DiTomaso, J.M. and E.A. Healy. 2007. Weeds of California and Other Western States. University of California Publication 3488.
  • Whitson, Tom D. (editor). 2002. Weeds of the West. University of Wyoming, Jackson, Wyoming.
  • Wilen, A. 2007. Mallows. UC Davis ANR Publication #74127, IPM.
  • Wilen, C.A. 2009. Common Mallow. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, University of Georgia, Bugwood Wiki.

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