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Malvaviscus arboreus Cav.

Family Name: Malvaceae
Common Name: Sleepy Mallow, Wax Mallow, Mexican Turk's Cap, Turk's Turban, 小悬铃花

The Sleepy Mallow is part of the Hibiscus family and originates from Central and North America. It is loved for its bright red flowers; when fully opened, the flower petals are wrapped around its stamen, looking like an unopened hibiscus flower. It blooms all year, grows well in Singapore's tropical climate and is easily propagated via seed or stem cutting. This evergreen plant attracts sunbirds which enjoy the sweet nectar and serves as a beautiful addition to attract wildlife to gardens!

Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Ornamental Flowers Woody


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Shrub (Woody)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 1 m


Native Distribution Central and North America
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Local Conservation Status Exotic (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a shrub, with slightly hairy branchlets, up to 1 m tall.
Foliage Its alternately arranged, stalked leaves are broadly cordate to ovate-cordate, tri-lobed or with smooth margins, 6-12 cm long and 2.5-10 cm wide.
Flowers Its red, tubular flowers are borne singly at the leaf axils, about 2-3.5 cm long and 5-petaled.
Fruits Its fruits are fleshy capsules that ripen to bright red and usually contain 3-4 seeds.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are visited by sunbirds for its nectar.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed or stem cutting.
Etymology Latin Malvaviscus, Mallow-glue; Latin arboreus, tree-like, branched, referring to the plant's growth form.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for growing in parks and gardens for its ornamental flowers which attracts sunbirds.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens
Thematic Landscaping Bird & Wildlife Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Cordate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire, Palmately Lobed
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Red
Flower Grouping Solitary
Flower Location Axillary
Individual Flower Shape Tubular

Fruit, Seed & Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 914
Species ID 2208
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 April 2020.