A free-flowering, medium sized shrub, Pavonia praemorsa the Yellow Mallow, grows well in cultivation and adds value to large and small gardens. It has small (3 cm) yellow, hibiscus-like flowers all year, with peaks in spring and autumn. It can be grouped in large flowerbeds or grown individually as a specimen plant. It is cold and drought hardy.

Pavonia praemosa is a well shaped, medium to large shrub that is well suited to small as well as large gardens.

Family:                              MALVACEA            (The Hibiscus family)

Name Derivation:

  • Pavonia – honours J Pavon, a Spanish botanist who lived some 200 years ago.
  • praemorsa – from Latin, praemorsus, ‘bitten off’, referring to the appearance of the ends of the leaves.

Common Names:           Yellow mallow (Eng).

eForm:                                A medium to large, upright shrub.

Size:                                   1 – 3 m by 1 – 3 m.


  • Smallish (2 – 3cm), butter-yellow, hibiscus-like flowers.
  • Flowers profusly.
  • Each flower opens for one day.
  • After flowering the petals close and turn red.

Pavonia praemorsa bears many butter-yellow hibiscus-like flowers all year round.

The petals of old, closed flowers turn red before falling from the plants.

Colour:   Butter-yellow.

Flowering Months:    All year, peaks in spring & autumn.

Fragrance:                     Flowers are not scented.


  • Evergreen.
  • Simple leaves alternate, round to ovate.
  • Leaf apex is usually truncated.
  • Leaves are dark green, 3 or more veined from the base.
  • Leaves margins are often dentate.

Thorns:   No thorns.


  • The fruit is made up of five capsules protected by the calyx.
  • Green drying to grey-brown.
  • May be found any time of the year.

Stem & Bark:

  • May be multi-stemmed but usualy single stemmed in cultivation.
  • Young stems quite thin but tough.

The fruit of Pavonia praemorsa consists of five capsules that turn grey-brown when they mature.

Will have many open flowers and many buds waiting to open during the warmer months.

The pale yellow flowers contrast nicely with the dark green leaves.

In the Garden:

  •  An attractive garden subject.
  • Showy when in full flower.
  • A good plant choice for small townhouse gardens.
  • May be grouped to good effect in larger gardens.
  • Plant towards the back of flower beds to screen walls or as a filler.
  • An ideal large container plant for a patio.

Soil Needs:

  • Happiest in a well composted, light soil with good drainage.


  • A low maintenance garden shrub.
  • Can be trained to produce the required shape.

Cold Hardiness:           Cold hardy.

Water Requirements:

  • Water wise plants.
  • Like water in the summer months.

Light Requirements:

  • Full sun, will tolerate some partial shade.

Roots:  Not aggressive.


  • Insect eating birds will feed on the insects attracted to the flowers.


  • Bees and butterflies feed from the flowers.

Medicinal:        Not recognized as a medicinal plant.

Poisonous:      Not poisonous.

Insectivourus birds, like this Bar-throated Apalis, will readily visit Pavonia praemorsa shrubs to feed on insects.

In its natural habitat, Pavonia praemorsa often grows in scrubby thickets and is seldom taller than 1.5 metres tall.

Notes of interest:

  • Sadly it is probably better known as a horticultural subject in the USA than here in South Africa.
  • Adapts very well to cultivation, and far out performs its wild cousins.

Natural Distribution:

  • Southern EC.
  • Endemic to South Africa.

Natural Habitat:

  • Occurs on sandy soils on the edge of inland or coastal bush.

© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2012 & 2019.