Painted Mallow
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Painted Mallow
aturalized palmate Photo: Tabish
Common name: Painted Mallow, Indian mallow, Flowering maple, Parlor maple • Manipuri: পুতুল Putul
Botanical name: Callianthe picta    Family: Malvaceae (mallow family)
Synonyms: Abutilon striatum, Abutilon pictum, Sida picta

While commonly called the Flowering Maple, Abutilon striatum is not at all closely related to the Maple trees most of us are familiar with. The common name, however, reflects the similarity of the palmately lobed leaves to the true Maples. Painted Mallow is native to Brazil, naturalized in India. Now considered an old-fashioned houseplant, it was probably introduced by the British in the hill stations. Painted Mallow was brought to Europe and North America early in the 19th century where it proved to be an attractive indoor flowering plant in temperate regions, and a small flowering shrub in tropical habitats. Painted Mallow looks spectacular with its lantern-like flowers, with overlapping petals, which hang looking down, from extraordinarily long stalks. The species name striatum means striped, and refers to the red veins on the orange petals. The old common name of Parlor Maple reflects its extensive use for interior decorating in past years. Today it is much less commonly seen as a houseplant, neglected in favor of the more exotic species available to the plant enthusiast. Flowering Maples tend to get tall and lanky with age, but their interesting foliage and bell-like flowers that come in shades of white, yellow, salmon or red, make them quite desirable.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand & Mirik, West Bengal.

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