Biennial growing to 5 ft (1.5 m). Has a pulpy taproot, 5-lobed scalloped leaves, and pink to mauve flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Common mallow is native to Europe and Asia. It is naturalized in the Americas and Australasia, growing in open areas and on hedges and fences. The leaves are gathered in spring, the flowers when in bloom in summer.
Leaves, flowers, root.
Common mallow contains flavonol glycosides, mucilage, and tannins. The flowers also contain malvin (an anthocyanin).
History & Folklore
The young leaves and shoots of this plant have been eaten since at least the 8th century BCE. The plant’s many uses gave rise to the Spanish adage, “A kitchen garden and mallow, sufficient medicines for a home.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Though less useful than marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), common mallow is an effective demulcent. The flowers and leaves are emollient and good for sensitive areas of the skin. It is applied as a poultice to reduce swelling and draw out toxins. Taken internally, the leaves reduce gut irritation and have a laxative effect.
When common mallow is combined with eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), it makes a good remedy for coughs and other chest ailments. As with marshmallow, the root may be given to children to ease teething.