Information on Tree-mallow

Common Name: Tree-mallow
Scientific Name: Malva arborea
Irish Name: Hocas ard
Family Group: Malvaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Tree-mallow could sometimes be confused with:

Mallow, Musk, Mallow Common,

This is an imposing, busy biennial, quite woody at the base.  It is covered in down and has most distinctive lobed and stalked leaves which fold like a fan.  The attractive pink flowers are in terminal clusters, each flower (3-5cm across) with dark veins running into a dark centre.  The petals are united at the centre of the flower and are considerably longer than the sepals.  Outside the calyx are three bracts which are larger that the calyx.  The seeds are held in round, flat capsules.  From June to September it gives a wonderful display in coastal areas mostly, is a native plant in some areas and has spread into others mainly on the east and south coasts. Previously known as Lavatera arborea, this plant belongs to the family Malvaceae.    

I first identified this plant in Cullenstown, Co Wexford in 2007 when I also photographed it.  

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Tree-mallow is being seen as a plant whose spread needs to be curtailed in some parts of the British Isles.  At Craigleith Island, off the coast of Scotland, the number of Puffins has halved in five years.  Research suggests that the spread of Tree-mallow to this island is the cause of this decline.  The plants have such dense foliage and stems that Puffins find it impossible to access their burrows and therefore have been unable to breed successfully on that island. 

Rene Van der Wal (2007) The invasion of tree mallow on Craigleith. P79-85 in Morris R & Bruce B (2007). East Lothian Emeralds. Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society. 

Rene Van der Wal (2007) The invasion of tree mallow on Craigleith. Scottish bird news 85: 1-4.