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Electronic Flora of South Australia species Fact Sheet

Family: Malvaceae
Lavatera plebeia

Citation: Sims, Curtis's Bot. Mag. 48:t. 2269 (1821).

Synonymy: L. plebeia Sims var. tomentosa Hook. f., J. Bot.(Hooker) 2:412 (1840); L. australis Cunn. ex Hook. f., J. Bot.(Hooker) 2:412 (1840), nom. illegit., in synonymy; Malva behriana Schldl., Linnaea 20:633 (1847); L. behriana (Schldl.)SchldL, Linnaea 24:699 (1852); L. plebeia Sims var. eremaea J. Black, Fl.S. Aust. 373 (1926).

Common name: Australian (or native), hollyhock.

Herbaceous erect perennial to 4 m high, stellate-pubescent; leaves broad-ovate to orbicular, 1-20 cm long, cordate, with 5-7 rounded to acute lobes, crenulate, serrulate, serrate or dentate, on long petioles.

Peduncles 0.5-2.5 rarely 5 cm long, spreading, sometimes distally ascending; epicalyx segments shorter than the calyx, not enlarging after anthesis; calyx broad-campanulate, 5-9 rarely 10 mm long, strongly enlarging after anthesis, the tube exceeding and strongly incurred above the schizocarp, the lobes spreading outwards, the stellate hairs with arms 0.1-0.3 rarely 0.5 mm long; corolla white to pink or lilac, 2-5 times the length of the calyx.

Mericarps 9-16 usually 10-14, 2-3.5 mm long, the upper surface concave or flat, rarely slightly convex, smooth or wrinkled towards the margins, with margins very sharp or slightly winged, entire or crenate to dentate.

image of FSA2_Lavatera_ple.jpg Lavatera plebeia twig, leaf and mericarp.
Image source: fig 437d in Jessop J.P. & Toelken H.R. (Ed.) 1986. Flora of South Australia (4th edn).

Published illustration: Cunningham et al. (1982) Plants of western New South Wales, p. 478.

Distribution:  While having a superficial resemblence to European species such as the preceding, L. plebeia is clearly native to Australia, being noted across southern Australia from the earliest days of exploration, well in advance of possible invasion by weeds.

  All States.

Conservation status: native

Flowering time: probably in all months.

SA Distribution Map based
on current data relating to
specimens held in the
State Herbarium of South Australia

Biology: Very variable in flower colour, the density and thickness of the tomentum and possibly the fruit ornamentation.

Taxonomic notes: Three varieties have been distinguished in the past in S.Aust., var. tomentosa Hook. f. being a stout coastal shrub with a dense velvety tomentum and white flowers occurring on off-shore islands and the coastline of southern Australia, var. eremaea J. Black having a similar indumentum to this variety, but differing by smaller flowers on shorter peduncles, and the typical variety having a sparser tomentum and purple to lilac or white flowers. These present characters are difficult to apply consistently, and only a revision taking account of variability within populations will resolve whether a practical infraspeciflc classification is warranted.

Author: Not yet available

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