New Book ** Edible Perennials: 50 Top perennials from Plants For A Future. Current interest in forest or woodland garden designs reflects an awareness that permanent mixed plantings are inherently more sustainable than annual monocultures. They safeguard and enrich soil ecosystems... more >>

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Malva sylvestris - L.                
Common Name Mallow, High mallow, French Hollyhock, Common Mallow, Tree Mallow, Tall Mallow
Family Malvaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards When grown on nitrogen rich soils (and particularly when these are cultivated inorganically), the plant tends to concentrate high levels of nitrates in its leaves[76]. The leaves are perfectly wholesome at all other times. Avoid with gallstones.
Habitats Waste ground, field verges and roadsides, avoiding acid soils[7, 9, 17].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: Pink. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Malva sylvestris is a BIENNIAL/PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Althaea godronii. Althaea mauritiana. Malva ambigua. Malva erecta. Malva mauritiana.
Malva sylvestris Mallow, High mallow, French Hollyhock, Common Mallow, Tree Mallow, Tall  Mallow

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Malva sylvestris Mallow, High mallow, French Hollyhock, Common Mallow, Tree Mallow, Tall  Mallow
(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedgerow;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 4, 7, 9, 94, 183]. Mucilaginous with a mild pleasant flavour, they are nice in soups where they act as a thickener[5]. The young leaves also make a very acceptable substitute for lettuce in a salad[K]. Immature seed - raw[183]. Used as a nibble[183], the seeds have a nice nutty flavour[12] but are too fiddly for most people to want to gather in quantity[K]. Flowers - raw. Added to salads or used as a garnish[183]. A pleasant mild flavour, with a similar texture to the leaves, they make a pleasant and pretty addition to the salad bowl[K]. The leaves are a tea substitute[46, 183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiphlogistic;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Diuretic;  Emollient;  Expectorant;  Laxative;  Salve.

All parts of the plant are antiphlogistic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative, salve[4, 7, 9, 21, 46, 222, 238]. The leaves and flowers can be eaten as part of the diet, or a tea can be made from the leaves, flowers or roots[222]. The leaves and flowers are the main part used, their demulcent properties making them valuable as a poultice for bruise, inflammations, insect bites etc, or they can be taken internally in the treatment of respiratory system diseases and problems with the digestive tract[4, 238, 254]. When combined with eucalyptus it makes a god remedy for coughs and other chest ailments[254]. Mallow has similar properties, but is considered to be inferior to the marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) and are seldom used internally[4]. The plant is an excellent laxative for young children[7]. The leaves can be used fresh whenever they are available or can be harvested in the spring and dried for later use[254]. The flowers are harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use[254]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Malva sylvestris for cough, bronchitis, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx (see [302] for critics of commission E).
Other Uses
Dye;  Fibre;  Litmus.

Cream, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seed heads[168]. A tincture of the flowers forms a very delicate test for alkalis[4, 115]. The leaves are used to relieve insect bites and stings[53]. A fibre obtained from the stems is useful for cordage, textiles and paper making[115].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Border, Massing. A very easily grown plant, succeeding in ordinary garden soil[1] and in poor soils[238]. It prefers a reasonably well-drained and moderately fertile soil in a sunny position[200], where it will produce a better crop of salad leaves[K]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[187]. There are some named forms, selected for their ornamental value[187]. 'Mauritiana' is larger than the type with much more ornamental flowers[187]. The flavour of the leaves and flowers is considered by many to be superior to the type species[183]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. Prone to infestation by rust fungus[200]. Special Features: Not North American native, Naturalizing, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Seed - sow early spring in situ. Germination should take place within 2 weeks.
Related Plants                                         
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Abelmoschus esculentusOkra43
Abelmoschus manihotAibika21
Abelmoschus moschatusMusk Mallow,Musk Okra23
Abutilon megapotamicumTrailing Abutilon40
Abutilon ochsenii 30
Abutilon pictumAbutilon, Parlour Maple, Flowering Maple, Spotted30
Abutilon purpurascens 20
Abutilon species 30
Abutilon theophrastiChina Jute, Velvetleaf, Butterprint Buttonweed Jute, China Mallow, Indian Velvet Leaf32
Abutilon vitifolium 30
Abutilon x hybridumChinese Lantern, Flowering Maple30
Abutilon x milleriTrailing Abutilon30
Abutilon x suntense 30
Adansonia digitataBaobab, Judas Fruit, Monkey Bread Tree33
Alcea roseaHollyhock32
Althaea cannabinaPalm-leaf marshmallow00
Althaea officinalisMarsh Mallow, Common marshmallow55
Callirhoe digitataFinger Poppy Mallow, Winecup20
Callirhoe involucrataPoppy Mallow, Purple poppymallow, Winecup, Finger Poppy Mallow32
Callirhoe leiocarpaTall Poppy-Mallow20
Gynatrix pulchellaHemp Bush00
Hibiscus acetosellaFalse Roselle, African rosemallow, Cranberry Hibiscus20
Hibiscus cannabinusKenaf, Brown Indianhemp22
Hibiscus diversifoliusSwamp Hibiscus21
Hibiscus heterophyllusNative Rosella20
Hibiscus moscheutosSwamp Rose Mallow, Crimsoneyed rosemallow, Wild Cotton, Common Rosemallow, Eastern Rosemallow, Swamp12
Hibiscus mutabilisCotton Rose, Dixie rosemallow22
Hibiscus rosa-sinensisChinese Hibiscus, Shoeblackplant, Hawaiian Hibiscus, Tropical Hibiscus, China Rose, Rose-of-China, S33
Hibiscus sabdariffaRoselle33
Hibiscus sinosyriacusRose Of Sharon42
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
Tuliameny Thu Jul 5 2007
Please tell me were in canada can i buy malva sylvestris.
Elizabeth H.
Jan Karpisek Fri Sep 12 2008

Photo of the Mallow cult. "Mauritania" by Jan Karpisek for

Elizabeth H.
Angela Paxton Sat Apr 18 2009
Is Malva sylvestris Zebrina edible - it says poisonous on the seed website!
Elizabeth H.
david Sat Apr 18 2009
I can find no reference to this being toxic, Bown,( Ref 238 above) who never seems to be wrong about anything, specifically mentions this variant as edible and medicinal. But excess can be laxative and see the note above on toxicity if grown on nitrate rich soil. Some Malva species are toxic however, I suggest you contact the source that said it is toxic and ask for a reference or if they are sure.
Elizabeth H.
david n Sun Apr 19 2009
The leaves are said to cause indigestion in large doses according to Tim Low(Wild Herbs of Australia and New Zealand), he is talking of Malva leaves in general, it's not completely certain this includes Malava sylvestis and its' varieties
Jair T.
Feb 6 2012 12:00AM
it is a fantastic remedy for infected wounds. My mother would steep leaves in water. and apply the cooled down leaves directly over wound. Put a bandage on top. a few hours later remove bandage and leaves, with it the infected part will come off.
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Subject : Malva sylvestris  

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