Annual to perennial herbs with simple and/or stellate hairs. Leaves alternate, petiolate; stipules present. Flowers bisexual, clustered, rarely solitary, in axils; epicalyx of 3 free or fused segments; calyx 5-lobed, usually enlarged in fruit; petals 5, free, emarginate; stamens crowded at and near the mouth of the staminal tube; style-branches and locules mostly 5–15, stigmas linear, adnate to upper part of style-branch; ovules 1 per locule. Fruit a schizocarp, the mericarps indehiscent, encircling the conical or flattened receptacle apex.
About 20–30 species more or less cosmopolitan; about 14 species (3 native) in Australia.
Now includes many species previously included in Lavatera L. Changes have been made following molecular analyses finding many species included in Lavatera (including all those present in Victoria) to be nested within Malva.