Mallows are a family of about 2,330 species in 204 genera. Recentlly the Malvaceae was combined with the Tiliaceae, Sterculiodaceae, and Bombacaceae. Thus this family contains even more amazing plants. Most notable are the Hybiscus, which have extrememly showy flowers and a staminal column that is unified (monodelphous andrecium). The plants that are used to flavor cola and chocolate (Theobroma cacao), are sterculioids. Balsa wood (Ochroma pyrimidale) and the kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra), which is used as a stuffing for bedding, are both bombacoids. Other bombacoids include the shaving brush tree (Psuedobombax ellipticum) and the stinky fruit of the durion (Durio zibethinis). Hawaii's state flower is a yellow, malvoid hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei). Its a fairly rare plant on the islands, along with many other rare, endemic Hawaiian plants like Aybiscadelphus hualalaiensis, Abutilon menziesii and Kokia cookei. Finally, the edible ocra plant (Hibiscus esculaentus), and the popular cotton plant (Gossypium sp.) are malvoid members of the family.
Systematics: You can tell a species in this family by a few uniting characteristics. They have small extensions off the calyx (epicalyx). The sap is musalangenous (if you stick them in water and pull them out the sap is snot-like). They have stellate hairs. The calyx is also valvate. The unification of the stamen varies in the family, but for malvoid species, the stamen are unified into a central column (monodelphous andrecium).
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