Skip to Content
Return to Home Page
Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Bristly mallow  (Modiola caroliniana )

Click on images to enlarge 

Life stages of Bristly mallow flower and leaves infestation in turf seedling seeds

Bristly mallow is a low-growing, bristly-haired broadleaf perennial plant that sometimes behaves as an annual or biennial. It inhabits turf, alfalfa fields, and other disturbed places throughout California, except deserts and the Great Basin, to about 1300 feet (400 m).


Cotyledons (seed leaves) are roundish. First leaves have lobed edges.

Mature plant

Bristly mallow stems grow prostrate or spreading up to about 20 inches (50 cm) long and root at lower stem joints (nodes) that are in contact with the ground. Leaves are highly variable. They range from egg shaped to palm shaped with deep lobes, to deeply divided with deep lobes. The leaf surface and edges are coarsely toothed.


Flowers develop singly at the bases of leaves, are orange to dull violet-red, and less than 1/2-inch (13 mm) wide in summer.


The fruiting head resembles a miniature wheel of cheese with wedge-shaped sections that break apart into individual fruit after maturity. Each fruit is shaped like the letter "C", has long hairs and two hornlike beaks on the back. Within the Fruits are two chambers, each containing one seed.


Seeds are roundish and flat with a notch on one side.

Related or similar plants

More information