Plants of
South Australia
Malvella leprosa ()
Ivy-leaf Sida,
Alkali Sida
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Distribution by Herbarium region
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier

Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1

Prior names

Malvella leprosa var. hederacea

Sida hederacea

Sida leprosa

Sida leprosa var. hederacea

Malva hederacea

Malva leprosa

Common names

Ivy-leaf Sida

Alkali Sida

Declared weed

A Declared weed in South Australia (external link)


Malvella from the genus Malva and the Latin diminutive 'ella'; indicating a small mallow like plant. Leprosa from the Latin 'leprosus' meaning scaly or scabby; referring to the scaly appearance of the plant.

Distribution and status

Found in the mid north and Murray regions in South Australia, growing in irrigated crop land and channel banks usually on alkaline soils.Also found in New South Wales and Victoria. Introduced. Uncommon in South Australia. Uncommon in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Semi-erect perennial herb to 30 cm high with a strong tap root and hairy stems giving the plant a greyish (scaly) appearance. Leaves alternate, asymmetrical fan-shaped, to 3.5 cm long and 4.5 cm wide, margins irregularly dentate, upper surface olive-green, lower surface paler and more densely hairy. Inflorescence 1 or few in the axils of the leaves on a long stalk to 2 cm with creamy flowers. Flowering between December and May. Fruits are brown disc-shaped capsule to 4 mm diameter with 6-10 seed segments. Seed embryo type is folded.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between February and July. Collect capsules that are drying off and starting to turn brown with hard seeds inside. Place the capsules into a tray and leave to dry for a week. Then rub the capsules by hand or with a rubber bung to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. This species has physical dormancy that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate (e.g. nicking or softening the seed coat).