Marshmallow (Malva parviflora
) is an upright or sprawling, summer or winter annual that is thought of as a common weed throughout North America. Marshmallow is native to the Mediterranean region but has been introduced worldwide as an ornamental. Marshmallow is identified by its distinctive, cheese-wheel like fruits and kidney-shaped leaves.
Marshmallow Toxic Components
Marshmallow has been implicated as the cause of many cases of poisoning in livestock in Australia and a recently discovered cause of poisoning in horses in the United States.
What Marshmallow Looks Like
- Young plants: It initially appear as a basal rosette.
- Root system: Straight taproot of varying lengths with a coarsely branched, secondary root system.
- Stems: 4 to 34 inches in length, branched stems which are covered in short hairs. The stems will often trail along the ground initially, until they turn upright at the end.
- Leaves: Green, wide, kidney-shaped and toothed edges with 5 to 9 shallow lobes. It has prominent veins that radiate from the center of each leaf, which are covered with short hairs on both sides. Leaves are alternative and attach to stems through long petioles.
- Flowers: 5-petaled flowers appear from May through October, and are white to pink to purple in color, notched at their tip, and can arise alone or in clusters from stem axils.
- Fruits: Fruits resemble cheese-like wheels, appearing as 10 to 20 rounded, flattened sections aggregated such that they form a ring. As fruits mature, they dry up and separate in segments, which each contain one reddish brown to black seed.