One unusual characteristic of the malvaceae
(mallow) family is the hair covering - the hairs are short but branched, and often star-like, imparting an even, velvety texture to the leaves and stems. Plants are herbs or shrubs, usually producing flowers in small clusters. Leaves are often divided, toothed or lobed (but not compound), and they have palmate veins. Stipules are usually present at the base of the leaf stalks. Flowers consist of five sepals (less often three or four), usually fused at the base, and five petals, separate but often overlapping. At the center are many stamens, arranged in a ring around one or more pistils. The US has 76 genera and 350 species.