Habit of red-flowered mallow

Habit of red-flowered mallow

Orange-red or red flowers with 5 petals


Fruit is a wheel-shaped schizocarp

Fruit almost ready to open left, ripe fruit right

Scientific Name

Modiola caroliniana (L.) G. Don



Common Names

red-flowered mallow, Carolina mallow, Carolina bristle mallow, bristle mallow, creeping mallow, wheel mallow, ground ivy


Native to tropical America (to as far south as northern Argentina) and warm temperate North America 





An annual herb or broad leafed, perennial (forb), rhizomatous, prostrate, up to 25cm in height and covered with stellate (star shaped) and/or simple hairs.


Gardens, lawns, waste places, amongst medium trees; occurring in aquatic areas; in sand, wet soil; occupying watercourses; growing on irrigated land, in disturbed natural vegetation.

General Description

Stems and Leaves:

The stems are prostrate, hairy and can root at the nodes. The leaves are ovate to broad-ovate alternate and are 3-4cm long and 2-3cm wide. They are reniform (kidney-shaped), round or triangular in shape with 3 to 7 toothed lobes.

Flowers and Fruit:

The solitary flowers have 5 petals and are borne on peduncles (stalks) in the leaf axils. They are predominantly orange-red or red. Five hairy green sepals are fused at the base. Fruit is a wheel-shaped schizocarp, 7-9 mm in diameter which splits at maturity into 16-22 two-seeded segments (each segment is called a mericarp). 


Distinguishing characteristics

The red flowered mallow is easily distinguished from other members of this family by the red to orange corolla (petals), the leaves with their toothed lobes and its habit as a prostrate creeping herb that roots at the nodes.

Sources & References

Auld BA, Meld RW (1992) 'Weeds an illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia.' (Inkata Press: Melbourne)

Cunningham GM, Mulham PL, Leigh JH (1981) 'Plants of Western New South Wales.' (NSW Government Printing Office: Australia)

Harden GJ (Ed) (2002) 'Flora of New South Wales.' (University of New South Wales Press Ltd: Sydney, Australia)

Parsons JM, Richardson RG (1993) 'Australian weed control handbook.' 9th edn. (Inkata Press: Melbourne)

Hinsley SR (2003) 'The Modiola page' www.malvaceae.info


Prepared by Kylie Pethybridge, 2005

Checked by Carole Campbell, 2005

Updated by Justin KY Chu, July 2005

Checked by Dr Peter Michael, July 2005