Learning About Common Mallow
Other Names for Common Mallow
The scientific name for common mallow is Malva neglecta. Sometimes this herb has also been called other names. Here are a few of them:
When I was a little girl we used to eat the cheese wheel shaped fruits this herb produces and we called them cheesies. On the other hand my husband says that he and his friends called them power pills.
Other Types of Mallow
There are many mallow plants that are related to this species. Marshmallow is the best known because it gave its name to the fluffy pillow made of sugar.
What to Look For
Common mallow has stems that alternate up the main stem, meaning that you will see a stem growing out of one side of the main stem and then a little ways up from there you will see another stem growing on the other side of that main stem. At the end of each of these stems grows a single leaf.
Some people might say this leaf looks similar to a geranium leaf. It has a sort of ruffly rounded appearance, with veins starting at the stem and going out to the edge of the leaf.
The flowers are white and purple.
The fruits are the shape of a miniature cheese wheel, which is how this plant gets some of its nicknames.
How is Common Mallow Useful?
When you read about mallow, you can know that the common mallow generally has the same properties, but a bit milder.
This is a great mucilaginous plant that is popular among foragers because of its versatility and nutrients.
This plant has been used throughout history to treat infections and diseases including coughs, bronchitis, tonsillitis, burns, digestive problems and eczema. From an herbalist's point of view, this is a powerful plant that can help move mucous out of the lungs and soothe the digestive system.
Dr. John R. Christopher said that people often fight to get rid of this persistent plant, but that instead we should be grateful it keeps coming back.
What Parts of Common Mallow Can Be Used?
This is another plant that is useful from the deepest roots to the tip of the tallest stem, leaf, flower and fruit.
The leaves can be eaten fresh in a salad or just chewed up by themselves. They are a bit mucilaginous and are related to the okra plant. They can also be cooked and are often used in recipes by foragers. Drying them is a great way to preserve them for later use.
The roots can be dug up and used as well.
As a final note, this plant is definitely powerful, so perhaps my husband and his friends weren't so far off when they called the cheesies (or fruit) of this plant power pills.
This is another plant that can be found everywhere. Keep your eyes open and just remember that you are looking to find it in a place that hasn't been sprayed with pesticides. The other place to avoid is along busy roads since there is a lot of exhaust that can affect the quality of your mallow plant.
Have fun searching.
By Melanie Skelton, Master Herbalist
Wolsey, L. (2004). Marshmallow. Retrieved July 16. 2022. from https://www.herballegacy.com/Marshmallow.html.
Mousavi, S. (2021). A Review on Health Benefits of Malva sylvestris L. Nutritional Compounds for Metabolites, Antioxidants, and Anti-Inflammatory, Anticancer, and Antimicrobial Applications. Retrieved July 16, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8382527/#:~:text=Malva%20sylvestris%20L.%20is%20a,most%20promising%20herbal%20medicinal%20species.