Malvaceae A.L. de Jussieu.
A family of about 243 genera and 4000-4500 species, herbs, shrubs, and trees, of cosmopolitan distribution, but especially diverse in the tropics and subtropics. Malvaceae has always been difficult to circumscribe cleanly, relative to members of such families as Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae. Molecular evidence now adds to morphologic evidence that traditional circumscriptions of these families are highly polyphyletic. Bayer et al. (1999) present a classification of an expanded Malvaceae, with 9 subfamilies recognized. This family includes several economically important species, including cotton (Gossypium spp.), cacao or chocolate (Theobroma cacao Linnaeus), and cola (Cola acuminata R. Brown).