Mallow - Malva sylvestris Mallow - Malva sylvestris

Herb: Mallow

Latin name: Malva sylvestris

Synonyms: Malva ambigua, Malva erecta, Malva mauritiana

Family: Malvaceae (Mallow Family)

Medicinal use of Mallow:

All parts of the plant are antiphlogistic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative, salve. The leaves and flowers can be eaten as part of the diet, or a tea can be made from the leaves, flowers or roots. The leaves and flowers are the main part used, their demulcent properties making them valuable as a poultice for bruise, inflammations, insect bites etc, or they can be taken internally in the treatment of respiratory system diseases and problems with the digestive tract. When combined with eucalyptus it makes a god remedy for coughs and other chest ailments. Mallow has similar properties, but is considered to be inferior to the marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) and are seldom used internally. The plant is an excellent laxative for young children. The leaves can be used fresh whenever they are available or can be harvested in the spring and dried for later use. The flowers are harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use.

Description of the plant:


45 cm
(1 foot)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Waste ground, field verges and roadsides, avoiding acid soils.

Edible parts of Mallow:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Mucilaginous with a mild pleasant flavour, they are nice in soups where they act as a thickener. The young leaves also make a very acceptable substitute for lettuce in a salad. Immature seed - raw. Used as a nibble, the seeds have a nice nutty flavour but are too fiddly for most people to want to gather in quantity. Flowers - raw. Added to salads or used as a garnish. A pleasant mild flavour, with a similar texture to the leaves, they make a pleasant and pretty addition to the salad bowl. The leaves are a tea substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

Cream, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seed heads. A tincture of the flowers forms a very delicate test for alkalis. The leaves are used to relieve insect bites and stings. A fibre obtained from the stems is useful for cordage, textiles and paper making.

Propagation of Mallow:

Seed - sow early spring in situ. Germination should take place within 2 weeks.

Cultivation of the herb:

Waste ground, field verges and roadsides, avoiding acid soils.

Known hazards of Malva sylvestris:

When grown on nitrogen rich soils (and particularly when these are cultivated inorganically), the plant tends to concentrate high levels of nitrates in its leaves. The leaves are perfectly wholesome at all other times.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.