Getting to Know Herbs: Malva/Mallow

in #gardening2 years ago (edited)

Malva is also known as the common mallow and is related to it's cousin marshmallow, and is suitable for use in treating fragile new skin. In French, it's called mauve, which means purple, the color of the flowers. It's purple flowers can be used to make salve for such purposes, such as for babies and infants.

It's ability to sooth and soften skin as well as to promote healing and the formation of scar tissue make it useful also for being applied to irritated buttocks and heat rashes, which is useful for newborns. As there are no contraindications for children, it can be safely used by mothers to apply to irritated nipples.

Taken internally in an infused form, mallow is helpful to soothe the digestive tract.

Photo by @krnel

The scientific name is Malva sylvestris, with common names being Cheeses, High Mallow and Tall Mallow. It's also referred to as Cheeseflower, Common Mallow, Dwarf Mallow, Fromagere, Grande Mauve, Gul-Khair, High Mallow, Kunzi, Malva mauritiana, Malva neglecta, Malva rotundifolia, Malva Silvestre, Malva sylvestris, Malvae Flos, Malvae Folium, Mauls, Mauve, Mauve des Bois, Mauve à Feuilles Rondes, Mauve Négligée, Mauve Sauvage, Mauve Sylvestre, Vilayatiikangai.

Photo by @krnel

Key Points

  • safe to use
  • good for skin issues
  • long historical use for millennia
  • the origin of the word for the color mauve


The word mallow comes from Old English malwe, imported from the Latin malva, cognate with the Ancient Greek malakhe which means mallow.

The color mauve was named from the French named for this plant in 1859.

Malva/mallow/mauve is one of the earliest recorded plants in literature. 3rd century BC physician Diphilus of Siphnus wrote about it saying it's "juice lubricates the windpipe, nourishes, and is easily digested". Horace the Ancient Roman poet said he ate it frequently for sustenance. It was also said to be places on the graves of ancients due to the belief the dead could feed on it.

Where is it found?

It's native to Western Europe, North Africa and Asia throughout the English speaking world. It's widespread throughout the temperate, subtropical and tropical regions. In North America, it's found nearly everywhere.

It grows up to 3-4 ft or 1 meter and is found in meadows, hedgegrows and fallow fields.

What's it used for?

The lovely purple flowers are used to make the medicine, but the leaf is also used. The purple color is used as a coloring agent in foods.

As mentioned above, it's useful for treating irritated or fragile skin as it can sooths and soften skin. It also promotes healing and the formation of scar tissue make it useful also for being applied to irritated buttocks and heat rashes. As there are no contraindications for children, it can be safely used by mothers to apply to irritated nipples and allowed to be fully absorbed before breastfeeding, or wiped clean if worried.

Other treatments are for irritation of the mouth and throat, dry cough and bronchitis due to a mucus-like substance that protects and soothes. It also helps with stomach or bladder issues. Wounds can also be treated with a poultice moist dressing and applied to the skin, or adding it to bath water.

Are there any risks?

There is no information about any negatives like side effects of contraindications with other medicine, although WebMD suggests to avoid use if pregnant of breastfeeding to stay on the safe side. But this plant has been used for a long time when applied topically on nipples and allowed to be fully absorbed for breastfeeding.


Previous posts on Getting to Know Herbs:
Boneset | Elecampane | Lungwort | Cramp Bark | Motherwort | Common Plantain | Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) | Black Cohosh | Common Bearberry | Mahonia Mountain Grape (Oregon Grape) | Blue Cohosh | Goldenseal

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When I was a kid we had a similar plant growing behind my grandad's woodworking sheds. Except.. they were massive. It was possible to walk underneath their leaves. We called them marshmallows but unsure if that is what they actually were.

Hmm, sounds big, but marshmallow only has leaves up to 3 inches long apparently. I don't think it was that one ;)

The purple color is used as a coloring agent in foods.

Never understood the desire to color food, lol.

I will look into this one as well, as I have sensitive skin that has grown more so as I age.

Make something that's supposed to taste purple , look purple. Like grape drink or blueberry ;)

I love mallow, and sadly everything else likes to eat it too so my plant is pretty sad. I have been wondering what to make a massage oil out of before wintertime, perhaps a mallow and rose blend? I also wish I put some pretty flowers in my herbal vinegar earlier, they are so beautiful. I am sure there will always be more though! Thanks for this lovely post, its one of my most favorite subjects.

Yeah, better use it up before it gets all eaten up ;)

It seems like the medicines in nature are God given and probably all we need to stay healthy. But then Big Pharma would not make money on treating our symptoms. LOL It all goes back to money. Unless you have the knowledge of these things. Then knowledge is power. Thanks @krnel

Well many things can be concentrated and extracted and built artificially that provide benefits too. The money behind things that also produce harm gets much ill to be ignored though.

Resteemed as always. My garden is going to be awesome next year! It is doing pretty good this year. Sadly we moved in late in the winter so I didn't have time to prepare the beds properly. I will be sure to share what I have planted as a result of these entries. Keep up the good work!

Thanks, good luck on getting your tip-top garden up and running next year.

Hola @krnel muy buen documental ,saludos

Hello @krnel very good documentary, greetings </ center>

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