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A genus of about twenty-five species of herbs and soft-wooded shrubs natives mainly of Europe, W. Asia, and the Canary Islands, but one species is indigenous in California. Leaves lobed or angled. Flowers axillary, solitary, in pairs or in clusters. Involucre (epicalyx) present, with two or three segments united at the base, at least in the bud-stage (free in Malva). Fruits splitting into numerous segments (mericarps), each containing one seed.
The genus is named in honour of the brothers Lavater, naturalists of Zürich.