Distribution of Malvaceae:
It is commonly called cotton family or mallow family. The family consists of about 85 genera and 1500 species among which 111 species found in India. The plants are almost cosmopolitan in distribution but many of which are confined to tropics and sub-tropics.
Economic Importance of Malvaceae:
- Cotton is perhaps the most important fibre inspite of many synthetic textile fibres. The seed coat of Gossypium produce epidermal hairs which is cellulosic in nature. This is cotton wool. These hairs are flattened, twisted and from the staple. Cotton plant grows best in the sandy damp soil of humid regions.
- Abelmoschus esculentus (Hindi-Bhindi, Eng.-Lady’s finger) fruits are used as a vegetable.
- Hibiscus rosa-sinesis or shoe flower is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant and also used in the worship of God and Godess Kali. Althea rosea is also a garden plant with its lovely pinkish flowers. Abutilon indicum (Hindi-Kanghi) is a wild plant which is sometimes used medicinally.
- Malva sylvestris is also a garden plant. Urena repanda is supposed to be a cure for hydrophobia.
Affinities of Malvaceae:
Malvaceae is related to Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae in having mucilaginous sap, simple alternate and stipulate leaves. According to Bentham and Hooker it differs from them in having monothecous anthers, monadelphous condition and presence of involucre or epicalyx. Hutchinson placed the single family under Malvales. Engler and Prantl put this family together with Tiliaceae, Bombaceae and Sterculiaceae in the order Malvales.