Carolina Bristle Mallow
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Carolina Bristle Mallow
aturalized Photo: Krishan Lal
Common name: Carolina Bristle Mallow, wheel-mallow, bristly-fruit-mallow
Botanical name: Modiola caroliniana    Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)
Synonyms: Malva caroliniana, Modiola prostrata

Carolina Bristle Mallow is an annual or perennial herb native to tropical America and warm temperate eastern North America, and widely naturalised throughout the tropical world. It has prostrate, hairy stems, rooting at the nodes, from which arise upright flowering stems. Leaves are variable, being 5-8 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, triangular to circular, kidney-shaped in overall outline, varying from shallowly toothed, to deeply 3- to 7-palmately lobed, such lobes often themselves pinnately lobed. The 4-5 mm long, ciliate, persistent, stipules are leafy. Orange-red flowers are borne solitarily or rarely in pairs in the leaf axils, on stalks 2-4 cm long. Flowers have 3 free, narrowly lanceshaped false-sepals, borne about 1 mm below the 5 broadly triangular-ovate sepals. Flowers have 5 orange-red obovate petals, often red at the base, each 3-8 mm in length, unnotched and adnate to the base of the stamen column. The stamen column is shorter than the petals, and yellowish in colour. The filaments, numbering 10-20, are borne solely at the tip of the column. The stigmas, borne on filiform style-branches, are head-like. The fruit is a schizocarp composed of roughly 20 black, 2-seeded, kidney-shaped mericarps, borne in a single whorl.

Identification credit: Krishan Lal Photographed in Sirmaur Distt, Himachal Pradesh.

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