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Ludwig's Marshmallow   
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Ludwig's Marshmallow
A Native Unknown Photo: Nidhan Singh
Common name: Ludwig's Marshmallow
Botanical name: Althaea ludwigii    Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)
Synonyms: Malva ludwigii L., Althaea laevis, Malva malwensis, Althaea laevis

Ludwig's Marshmallow is an annual or short-lived perennial growing to up to 40 cm high, but often much less, with a thick vertical root. It is named for Christian Gottlieb Ludwig, 18th century professor of natural history and medicine. Flowers are borne in the leaf axils, singly or in fascicles of 2 or 3, in spring. Flower-stalks are 0.1-1 cm long, becoming longer in fruit. Flowers have an epicalyx of 8-10 linear-lanceshaped, 4-5 mm long bracteoles. Sepals are 5-6 mm long, elongating to 1 cm when in fruit. They are narrowly lanceshaped, becoming triangular-ovate and tapering at the apices in fruit. Petals are about 6 mm long, and white or pink in colour. The staminal tube is hairy at the base. The stems are hairy. Some stems are long, prostrate and branched, others are prostrate or rising. The leaf stalk is slender and 1-6 cm long, decreasing in length towards the tip of the stem. stipules are ovate-triangular, 2-6 mm long, fringed with hairs. Leaves are 0.6-3 cm across, palmately cut, with obovate-oblong lobes with rounded tips, and a covering of star-shaped-hairs. The fruit is a depressed-spherical mericarp 5-6 mm in diameter, composed of 8 to 10 mericarps. The axis of the fruit ends in an hairy conical beak. The mericarps have sharp angles between the lateral and dorsal faces. The lateral faces are wrinkled. The seeds are lenticular or kidney-shaped, about 1 mm across, hairless, and brown in color. Ludwig's Marshmallow is found in Russia, W. Asia, Mediterranean region, S. Africa, Pakistan and India.

Identification credit: Surajit Koley Photographed in Kaithal distt., Haryana.

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