The Lavatera Pages :
Lavatera thuringiaca

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Lavatera thuringiaca L. ssp thuringiaca
Lavatera thuringiaca
L. ssp ambigua

Lavatera thuringiaca 'Dahlem' flowerLavatera thruringica 'Ice Cool' fllowerLavatera thuringiaca 'Sweet Dreams' flowerLavatera thuringiaca 'White Angel' flowerLavatera thuringiaca 'White Satin' flowerLavatera thuringiaca Hinsley 334 flower
Lavatera thuringiaca Hinsley 34 flowerLavatera thuringiaca Hinsley 35 flowerLavatera thuringiaca Hinsley 36 flowerLavatera thuringiaca Hinsley 57 flower

(Flowers of 'Dahlem', 'Ice Cool', 'Sweet Dreams', 'White Angel', 'White Satin', Hinsley 33, HInsley 34, Hinsley 35, Hinsley 36, Hinsley 57)

Lavatera thuringiaca is a herbaceous species placed in section Olbia, which also includes the annual or biennial Lavatera maroccana and Lavatera punctata, the herbaceous Lavatera cachemiriana and Lavatera triloba, the shrubby Lavatera olbia, Lavatera bryoniifolia, Lavatera oblongifolia and Lavatera stenopetala, and the hybrid Lavatera ×clementii (olbia × thuringiaca), which may be either herbaceous or shrubby. Among these species the most closely related to Lavatera thuringiaca is Lavatera cachemiriana.

Lavatera thuringiaca is not as commonly cultivated as an ornamental as Lavatera ×clementii, but is in the process of becoming more widely available and grown.

Lavatera thuringiaca L.
English (International) Gay Mallow, Lavatera
Italian Malvone di Turingia
German Thuringer-strauchpappel
Dutch Lavatera
Swedish Grĺmalva
Danish Tysk Poppelrose
Norwegian Poppelrose
Finnish Harmaamalvikki
Estonian harilik rőngaslill, Rőngaslill
Czech Slézovec durynský
Slovak slezovec durínsky

Lavatera thuringiaca L. is a tomentose herbaceous perennial, producing new shoots from the base either in the autumn or the spring, bearing loose racemes of pink or white flowers from midsummer to early autumn.

There are two subspecies, ssp. thuringiaca and ssp. ambigua. Lavatera thuringiaca ssp. thuringiaca has a widespread range from Germany and Eastern Europe north of the Balkans to Asia Minor, Transcapsia and Siberia, with a localised distribution in western Norway, southern Sweden, southern Finland and Estonia. Lavatera thuringiaca ssp. ambigua is to be found in Southern France, Italy, Austria, and the south west Balkans. Distribution maps showing the worldwide and Scandinavian distributions are present on the Swedish Museum of Natural History website.

Lavatera thuringiaca is heterophyllous. The basal leaves are cordate and orbicular while subsequent leaves are palmately (3-)5-lobed.

The inflorescence is a loose raceme with most flowers borne solitarily at nodes. In the lower nodes of the raceme the flower stalk is subtended by a pair of stipules and a 3-lobed subhastate leaf; in the upper nodes by a trifurcate bract which presumably corresponds to the fusion of a pair of stipules with a reduced leaf. The lower flower-bearing nodes and some nodes below them produce shorter coflorescences.

The stalk of the flower is articulated. I interpret the part below the articulation as a peduncle, and the part above as a pedicel. The length of the stalk is variable with position within the inflorescence, and increases when the flower turns to a fruit. The peduncle is several times longer than the pedicel. The flowers have a large cuspidate epicalyx, composed of 3 fused bracteoles, the cusps being particularly prominent in bud. The bracteoles are deeply divided, and are broadly obovate and acuminate. The calyx has a discoid base, which can be seen when the epicalyx is removed. It is composed for 5 sepals, fused for about half their length. The free portion of the sepals are triangular and somewhat acuminate. The corolla is from 5 to 9 cm in diameter, and is composed of 5 petals which may be obtriangular, obovate or bilobed in shape. The petals are rose or white in colour, usually pale when not white, and often darken somewhat as they age. The base of the petal is a claw, sometimes slghtly darker or lighter in shade than the blade of the petals. The petals have 11, or rarely 9, veins, which in the darker-flowered forms are a little darker than the petal ground.

Common aberrations are the presence of 4-petalled corollas, geminate flowers, i.e. two borne on a single stalk, and the presence of a bracteole-like or stipule-like bract at the articulation of the stalk.

The fruit is a schizocarp of around 20 mericarps. The mericarps are glabrous, with a rounded and keeled dorsal face.

Ssp. ambigua is distinguished by the upper leaves being acutely to cuspidately lobed; in ssp. thuringiaca those leaves are sub-acutely to obstusely lobed. It also has a denser inflorescence, and shorter pedicels.

Synonyms for Lavatera thuringiaca include  Althaea ambigua Alef., Althaea thuringiaca Borbas, Althaea thuringiaca Kuntze, Althaea vitifolia Borbas, Lavatera bornmuelleri Hausskn. ex Bornnt., Lavatera olbia Steph, Lavatera tauricensis hort., Lavatera thirkeana C.Koch, Lavatera thuringiaca var. brachypetala Sommier, Lavatera thuringiaca var. obtusiloba Becks, Lavatera thuringiaca var. protensa Becks, Lavatera vitifolia Wierzb., Lavatera vulgaris H.Mart., Malva thuringiaca (L.) Visiaini, Olbia heterophylla Moench and Olbia thuringica Moench. Synonyms for ssp ambigua include  Althaea ambigua Borbas, Althaea muricata Borbas, Lavatera ambigua DC., Lavatera cyrilli (Vis.) Schloss. & Vuk., Lavatera muricata Panc, Lavatera salvitellensis Brig., Lavatera silvestris Ten., Lavatera sylvestris Cyrilli ex Tenore and Malva cyrilli Vis..



The dead stems may be removed at any convenient time between late autumn and spring.


Seed may be collected when ripe (when the epicalyx and calyx have dried out) and sown in a subsequent spring. Sow the seed in a seed tray or pot lightly covered on the surface of a seed or cutting compost in. From a late spring sowing plants produce few, if any, flowers in their 1st summer, but flower copiously in their 2nd summer.

Seed of individual plants may come true to type, when the plants are grown isolated from other specimens, but this is not the case for mixed plantings. In most cases it would be inappropriate to label seedlings from named cultivars as belonging to the cultivar. (Some cultivars might be seed strains - I suspect that this is the case for Lavatera thuringiaca 'Ice Cool'.)

Individual forms must be propagated vegetatively. This is most easily achieved by taking basal cuttings in spring. Nodal cuttings can be taken in late spring, before flowering, and stem cuttings (from coflorescences) in late summer. Stem cuttings root readily, but they are reluctant to overwinter, not producing the perennating rootstock before the stems die back in the autumn.


Unambiguous identification of Lavatera thuringiaca is difficult because of the existence of cultivars of Lavatera ×clementii closely approaching Lavatera thuringiaca.

Lavatera thuringiaca may be distinguished from most mallows with similar habits and flowers by its possession of an epicalyx conissting of 3 broad bracteoles which are fused at the base. Iliama remota and Malva alcea, moschata and ×intermedia have 3 unfused, relatively narrow bracteoles. The latter may also be distinguished by the upper foliage; in Lavatera thuringiaca the upper leaves become subhastate, in Malva alcea, moschata and ×intermedia they commonly become deeply divided. Sidalcea species in general lack an epicalyx. Kitaibelia vitifolia has more than 3 bracteoles, glandular-hairy stems, yellow stamens and capitate fruits.

Lavatera thuringiaca can be distinguished from Lavatera olbia, oblongifolia, bryoniifolia and stenopetala by its herbaceous habit (those species are shrubs). The same criterion holds for many forms of Lavatera ×clementii

Lavatera cachemiriana can be distinguished from Lavatera thuringiaca by its narrow bilobed petals. Lavatera triloba can be distinguished from Lavatera thuringiaca by its orbicular leaves (palmately lobed in Lavatera thuringiaca) and in most forms by its yellow or purple flowers.

There may be no single character which distinguishes Lavatera thuringiaca from herbaceous forms of Lavatera ×clementii, but the nature of the base of the calyx - discoid in Lavatera thuringiaca (and Lavatera cachemiriana) and campanulate in most Lavatera ×clementii clones - is a useful rule of thumb (Lavatera ×clementii 'Pavlova' shows an intermediate state.) Other traits which incline towards an identification as Lavatera thuringiaca are copious seed set (Lavatera ×clementii 'Pavlova' and 'Summer Kisses' also set seed copiously), a longer flower stalk, with a greater difference in length between the parts below (peduncle) and above (pedicel) the articulation and a larger and more cuspidate epicalyx with proportionally deeper sinuses and broader lobes.


Not all herbaceous Lavatera cultivars are cultivars of Lavatera thuringiaca. The is a cultivar, 'Aberrance', of Lavatera cachemiriana. Some clones of Lavatera ×clementii (e.g. 'Barnsley Baby', 'Pavlova') are herbaceous, and I have raised several herbaceouis seedlings of Lavatera ×clementii myself. Some cultivars are not usually listed as belonging to a particular species or cross; of these, from personal observation, I am placing 'Sweet Dreams', 'White Angel' and 'White Satin' as cultivars of Lavatera thuringiaca and 'Summer Kisses' as a cultivar of Lavatera ×clementii.

'Sweet Dreams', 'White Angel' and 'White Satin' (and 'Summer Kisses') all have the same PBR registration, and presumably were raised by the same person.

'Bella Rosa'

Lavatera thuringiaca 'Bella Rosa' is a cultivar available in Germany, with pink flowers.


Lavatera thuringiaca 'Dahlem' is named after the botanical garden at Dahlem in Berlin. It grows 1.5-1.8m high, and has soft pink flowers. It is said to come true from seed., but this will only be the case when grown in isolation from other cultivars.

'Ice Cool'

Lavatera thuringiaca 'Ice Cool' has white flowers, occasionally aging pink. It is said to come true from seed, but this is, as would be expected, not the case when growin with other forms of Lavatera thuringiaca It is reliably winter hardy in Germany, but apparently not so in all areas of the British Isles (presumably the mild wet winters don't suit it).

'Peppermint Ice'

'Peppermint Ice' is an alternative name for 'Ice Cool'

'Rosa Dura'

Lavatera thuringiaca 'Rosa Dura' is a cultivar available in Germany, with darker pink flowers.


Lavatera thuringiaca 'Rose' is a cultivated seed-strain of the species, close to the wild-type.

flower of Lavatera 'Sweet Dreams''Sweet Dreams'

Lavatera 'Sweet Dreams' is a tall, upright plant, with flat, soft pink, flowers, with non-overlapping strongly bilobed petals. This plant sets seed abundantly, which suggests that it is a selection of Lavatera thuringiaca. (Possibly with 'Ice Cool' as one parent.)

Tauricensis group

Lavatera thruringiaca Tauricensis group is commionly sold under the name of Lavatera tauricensis, I suspect that these are plants derived from the population of Lavatera thuringiaca found in the mountains of Crimea, and are better considered as a horticultural group, rather than a distinct natural taxon. These plants are upright, relatively compact, reaching 3-4 ft. in height when in bloom. They flower from July until the frosts, bearing rose pink flowers. They are winter hardy in continental climates, but may not be reliably hardy in the wet condition of a British winter. However copious, readily germinating, seed is produced, so replacement plants are easily obtained, with the proviso that it is unlikely to come true when open-pollinated in the presence of other varieties.


Lavatera thuringiaca 'Tausendschön' is a cultivar available in Germany and Switzerland, with pink flowers.

'White Angel'

Lavatera 'White Angel' is a tall, upright plant, producing new shoots from mid-summer; white-flowered, with non-overlapping strongly bilobed petals with pale pink claws. The flowers become slightly pink with age, but much less so than Lavatera ×clementii 'Barnsley'.

'White Satin'

Lavatera thuringiaca 'White Satin' is a white-flowered variety with nearly flat petal apices. The claw of the petal is pale pink, and the whole flower develops a pinkish cast as it ages.

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