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common name for members of the Malvaceae, a family of herbs and shrubs distributed over most of the world and especially abundant in the American tropics. Tropical species sometimes grow as small trees.
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(Hibiscus esculentus), an annual plant of the mallow family. Height to 1.5 m; it is similar to the cotton plant in its outward appearance and flowers. It is native to East Africa. The unripe, podlike fruits are used for food as vegetables, rough fibers are extracted from the stalks, and a coffee substitute is prepared from the seeds. It is cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries, North America, and southern Europe. In the USSR it is grown in the Transcaucasian region.