Common Mallow - Mallow

Common mallow

It belongs to the Malvacee family. It is best known as Malva Sylvestris. The morphological characteristics of this plant are very varied, but easy to identify. It has broad, serrated, round leaves, divided into seven lobes.
It can present several flowering stems: the most important one takes on a woody consistency. On top of the stems we find, arranged in irregular groups, the characteristic mauve-colored flowers (in fact the name of the plant is taken from the French language): there are all the shades ranging from pink to violet, mutants even during flowering.
At the base, the five petals take on a very dark color compared to the top. The numerous stamens are gathered in a kind of "small column", from the center of which, when the pollen fell, the ten stigmas open forward and occupy the same position that the anthers occupied before.
Pollination by insects is facilitated by the form: there is a considerable spread of pollen in the plants visited.
After the petals fall, there is a characteristic formation containing the seeds. It is very curious: some herbalists have called it the "ciambellina del campo"!

Mallow characteristics

The common mallow or malva sylvestris has been known since ancient times for its medicinal virtues. The first evidence of its use comes from the Greeks and Romans: they gathered the most tender leaves and exploited the laxative virtues. Later it became indispensable in the vegetable gardens of the convents since, in purity or in association with other herbs, it was used for medicinal preparations suitable for treating constipation, inflammation of the oral cavity, upper respiratory tract and urinary tract.

Which parts can be used of mallow?

All parts of the mallow are used even if the most common ones are certainly the young leaves and flowers. Once extracted from the roots, a useful medicine to relieve gum pain (especially in infants).

What active ingredients does it contain?

The most interesting are the flavonoids, tannins and anthocyanins (with an important antioxidant role). The laxative properties are instead linked to the large amount of mucilage, capable of reaching the intestine and facilitating transit.

Use of mallow

The most common use is the internal one. We get herbal teas and decoctions to be taken regularly.
They are recommended for dry coughs, sore throats, mouth ulcers, bronchitis, laryngitis and colds. They are also a panacea for constipation.


Boil a liter of water and let it rest for about 5 minutes. At that point we will add two tablespoons of leaves and fresh flowers or a tablespoon of dried. Let's wait 5 minutes. The ideal is not to filter and drink warm.
Against diseases of the respiratory system and intestinal irritations it is possible to associate mallow to other herbs such as althea, badger barbasso, toxagging, antennaria dioica and violet odor.

Decoction of mallow

For external uses it is good to obtain a more concentrated extract: decoction is frequently used.
In a liter of cold water four tablespoons of leaves and fresh flowers (or two of dried product) are placed. Bring slowly to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes. Let it cool and then carefully filter.
The product obtained can be drunk, but it also finds other applications; It is mainly used as a sedative for skin and mucosal irritations. In the first case we will have to soak a cotton disk and let it act on the area for at least 30 minutes.
It is also useful for alleviating conjunctivitis and small sores.
For affections of the oral cavity (mouth ulcers, gingivitis) we perform rinses several times a day, keeping the liquid in the mouth for at least 30 seconds. In cosmetics it can be used in place of a skin tonic, especially for people with couperose.
The fresh juice of the leaves is very useful to alleviate the pain and itching resulting from insect bites.

Cataplasm of mallow

A poultice can also be very useful. It is used in cases of muscle or joint pain, to relieve inflammation and to promote the disappearance of hematomas.
Proceed by simmering four tablespoons of dried leaves and flowers in a little water for a minute. Wrap them in a clean piece of fabric and wait for the temperature to drop to around 50 ° C. Apply directly on the painful part, leaving at least 20 minutes.

Cultivation and harvesting

If we make extensive use of this medicinal herb we can decide to grow it in our garden (or even simply on the balcony). It is an undemanding plant, it will monitor with great ease giving us the possibility of having access to its benefits at any time.

Sowing and cultivation of mallow

Sowing can take place in late autumn or in spring, both in open ground and in pots. The ideal substrate is obtained by mixing field soil and universal soil in equal measure. We keep wet in a shady place until germination takes place. Later we move to a very sunny area and irrigate when the earth is dry in depth.
It is generally resistant to pests: it is only necessary to fear the rust that affects it in the basal leaves.

Collection and storage of mallow

It is advisable to wait at least half of May before harvesting. We take the younger and healthier leaves and flowers, possibly early in the morning.
We can still collect whole stems to be kept for a few days in the water.
It should also be remembered that the active ingredients present degrade easily and it is therefore advisable to use the leaves, and especially the flowers, in the shortest possible time.
A short storage can be done in the fridge, wrapped in a damp cloth.

Common Mallow - Mallow: Drying of mallow

In anticipation of winter it is instead good to resort to drying: we hang the stems in a cool, airy and shaded room until they are completely dry.
Then we remove flowers and leaves and place them in an airtight jar to keep in a dark and cool place.