The small-flowered mallow (Malva parviflora L.), is also known as whorled mallow, whorl-flower mallow, ringleaf marshmallow and cheeseweed. It originated in the Mediterranean and south-western Europe, but is considered native to Asia and North Africa too. It has naturalised throughout the world including all states and territories in Australia.
Small-flowered mallow is a hardy, adaptable and temperate climate plant. It now grows in the tropics, tolerates rabbit predation and is naturally tolerant to glyphosate. It is however vulnerable to rust fungus infestation. When growing rigorously, it’s an indicator of fertile soil. Small-flowered mallow is a highly adaptable weed that sprawls or grows erect, up to 1.5 m in height.
The flowers are smaller than other mallow species (hence the name) and each have five pink or white petals. The flowers develop into tiny pumpkin-like green fruits, also referred to as cheeses, which are approximately 6–10 mm in diameter. These dry to become the seeds of the plant. The leaves are round, heart-shaped and soft. Stems, taproot, leaves and fruits are all edible, making this lovely biennial plant a useful contributor to any garden or foraging commons.