Malva sylvestris ssp. mauritiana Malva sylvestris ssp. mauritiana Malva sylvestris ssp. mauritiana

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Common Mallow

Malva sylvestris

  • Name also: High Mallow, Tall Mallow, Blue Mallow, Cheese-cake,
    Pick-cheese, Round Dock, Country-mallow, Wild Mallow, Wood Mallow
  • Family: Mallow Family – Malvaceae
  • Growing form: Biennial or perennial herb.
  • Height: 30–100 cm (12–40 in.). Stem lax, ascending–erect, stellate and straght-haired.
  • Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), 3–6 cm (1.2–2.4 in.) wide. Petals 5, reddish purple, darkly veined, lighter at the base, notched. Calyx 5-lobed. Epicalyx of 3 narrowly elliptic leaves. Stamens numerous, stalks grown together surrounding the pistil like a tube. Pistil of several fused carpels. Flowers in pairs or small clusters borne in leaf axils.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked, with stipuli. Blade kidney-shaped–cordate, hairy–nearly hairless, glossy on upper side, shallowly 3–7-lobed, lobes half-rounded–ovate, toothed.
  • Fruit: Schizocarp broad, flat, ring-like. Mericarps (carpels) with wrinkled surface, sharp-toothed, hairless–hairy, 1-seeded.
  • Habitat: Harbour sites, embark points, gardens, waysides, wastelands.
  • Flowering time: July–September.

Common mallow is an old accompaniment of our culture, and is found practically exclusively on the fringe of and near human settlements. In the past it has been spread so diligently all over Europe and finally all over the world, that the borders of its original geographical range are now hazy. It is, however, supposed to be a Eurasian plant of relatively dry and open spaces.

Common mallow was traditionally a useful plant which was highly regarded as vegetable, but most of all as a versatile medicinal plant. Up to the beginning of modern times, the species had a reputation of being a universal remedy. Mallow reduced fever, relieved nearly all pains and healed insect stings and wounds. Mallow leaf was used to induce childbirth and act as an indicator for a woman’s fertility. It was believed that mallow helped people rise above their urges and passions, so it was an important antidote for love potions. And best of all, mallow pills could cure stupidity! A large part of those folk traditions connected with mallow’s medicinal uses are purely superstitious, but no smoke without fire: mallow contains compounds which activate the immune defence system as well as substances soothing infections, and its medicinal uses are still being researched.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family

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