Other common names

Mallow, little mallow, cheeseweed, buttonweed

Scientific name

Malva neglecta




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.


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.


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.


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.


Grows a large, tough taproot.

Common mallow taproot

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

Native to


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)


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


  • 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.
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

Learn more about the author(s)


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