Herbs & Plants

Malva sylvestris

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Botanical NameMalva sylvestris
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Malvoideae
Genus: Malva
Species: M. sylvestris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Synonym: Common Mallow.Althaea godronii. Althaea mauritiana. Malva ambigua. Malva erecta. Malva mauritiana,   Malva ambigua. Malva erecta. Malva mauritiana.

Common names:  Mallow, High mallow, French Hollyhock, Common Mallow, Tree Mallow, Tall Mallow .
Albanian: Mëllaga
Bulgarian:Gorski slez
English: Blue Mallow, Tall mallow, common mallow, high mallow,  cheese-cake,
pick-cheese, round dock, country-mallow, wild mallow, wood mallow
Catalan: Malva, Vauma, malva de cementiri
Corsican: Malba
Welsh: Hocysen Gyffredin
Czech: sléz lesní
Danish: Almindelig Katost
German: Kultur-käsepappel
Esperanto: Malvo granda
Spanish: Malva común, Malva silvestre
Basque: ziga, zigiña
Estonian: mets-kassinaeris
French: Grande mauve, mauve sylvestre, mauve des bois
Finnish: Kiiltomalva
Croatian: Sljez crni, Sljez divlji
Hungarian: Erdei mályva, mályva, Papsajt
– Georgian:Balba

Italian: Malva, méiba, nalba, riondella
Kashmiri: Sotsal
Malayalam: Hobbejza tar-raba
Dutch: Groot Kaasjeskruid
Norwegian: Apotekerkattost
Polish: Slaz dziki
Portuguese: Malva silvestre
Sardinian: mamarutza, marmaredda, marva, Narbedda
Slovak: slez lesný
Slovene: Gozdni slezenovec
Serbian: crni slez
Swedish: rödmalva
Romanian: Nalba de culturä, nalba de padure
Turkish: Büyük ebegümeci

Habitat ; Malva sylvestris is native to England, Wales and Channel Islands, Siberia and scattered elsewhere. It  spreads itself on waste and rough ground, by roads and railways throughout lowland of England. It has been introduced to and has become naturalised in eastern Australia, in the United States, Canada and Mexico probably escaped from cultivation.

Malva sylvestris is a spreading herb, which is an annual in North Africa, biennial in the Mediterranean and a perennial elsewhere Three feet (one meter) tall, (3 meters has been observed in a wild or escaped from cultivation setting, and several cultivated plants of 2 meter or more in height) with a growth habit which can be straight or decumbent, branched and covered with fine soft hairs or none at all, M. sylvestris is pleasing in appearance when it first starts to flower, but as the summer advances, “the leaves lose their deep green color and the stems assume a ragged appearance”.


Stems and leaves:
A thick, round and strong stem.
The leaves are borne upon the stem, are roundish, and have three or five to seven  or five to nine[8] shallow  lobes, each 2 to 4 centimeters (1 to 2 inches) long, 2 to 5 centimeters wide (1 to 2 inches) and 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) in diameter. Downy, with hairs radiating from a common center and prominent veins on the underside.

Petiole either 2 to 6 centimeters (1 to 3 inches) or 2 to 13 centimeters (1 to 5 or 6 inches) long

Cattle do not appear to be fond of this plant, every part of which abounds with a mild mucilage.

Described as reddish-purple, bright pinkish-purple with dark stripes and bright mauve-purple, the flowers of Malva sylvestris appear in axillary clusters of 2 to 4 and form irregularly and elongated along the main stem with the flowers at the base opening first.

M. sylvestris has an epicalyx (or false calyx) with oblong segments, two-thirds as long as calyx or 2–3 millimeters long and 1.5 millimeters wide. Its calyx is free to the middle, 3–6 millimeters long, with broadly triangular lobes or ovate mostly 5–7 millimeters long.The flowers are 2–4 times as long as the calyx;

Petals are wrinkly to veined on the backs, more than 20 millimeters long or 15 to 25 millimeters long  and 1 centimeter wide, eggshaped, margin notched with a fringe of hairlike projections.

Slender flower stalks  that are either 2 centimeters long or 1 to 3 centimeters long.
Ten broad carpels in axillary clusters; stamen about 3 millimters long, radiating from the center with short soft hairs.

Nutlets strongly reticulate (10–12 mericarps, usually without hair, with sharp angle between dorsal and lateral surfaces, 5–6 millimters in diameter.
Seeds or ‘cheeses,’ are brown to brownish green when ripe, about 2.5 millimeters long and wide 5 to 7 millimeters in diameter and are shaped like a cheese wheel which is where several of its common names came from.

A very easily grown plant, succeeding in ordinary garden soil and in poor soils. It prefers a reasonably well-drained and moderately fertile soil in a sunny position, where it will produce a better crop of salad leaves. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. There are some named forms, selected for their ornamental value. ‘Mauritiana’ is larger than the type with much more ornamental flowers. The flavour of the leaves and flowers is considered by many to be superior to the type species. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. Prone to infestation by rust fungus.

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

Edible Uses:
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.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: Flowers, leaves.

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. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Malva sylvestris for cough, bronchitis, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx.

Other Uses:
The species has long been used as a natural yellow dye, perhaps more recently, cream color, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seeds. A tincture of the flowers can make a very sensitive test for alkalis.

In the past, the flowers were spread on doorways and woven into garlands or chaplets for celebrating May Day.

Known Hazards : 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. Avoid with gallstones.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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