Contrary to the Polish names, common mallow is one of the primeval multi-purpose cultivated plants. Common mallow is an ancient vegetable and medicinal herb. Today it is sown as a honey, ornamental, and medicinal plant (used in cough, constipation and skin diseases, even for infants). Wild, non-cultivar form.
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Polish name: wild mallow, syn. forest mallow, curly, mallow, mallowie, button herb, wild hollyhocks
Latin name: Malva silvestris
Family: the mallows Malvaceae
Status in Poland: firmly established since the early Neolithic
Common mallow is usually a biennial, exceptionally annual or perennial species.
Shaggy shoots, the main erect, the others creeping. Sinuate leaves with an odd number of lobes (3, 5, or 7) and irregularly toothed margins, vivid green or brown-green. The underside of the leaf is more hairy and veined than the surface. Main veins are often purple.
Flowers similar to ornamental mallow flowers, but much smaller, short-stalked, pink or burgundy, 1-5 per leaf axil. Composed of a 5-sepal calyx, a 3-sepal epicalyx, and a corolla 3-4 times longer than the calyx. Both pistils and stamens are numerous. The filaments of the stamens fuse into a stellate ciliated tube that covers the pistils.
The fruit: a schizocarp composed of the 9-13 kidney-shaped wrinkled mericarps with a silvery coating. These mericarps form a disc around the durable pistils.
Common mallow grows excellently in permeable, light, sandy or sandy-loam, quite barren soils, and is therefore suitable for the recultivation of post-industrial areas. Avoids acidic and wet substrates. Prefers sunny places. It grows better in places rich in nitrogen, but it also grows well in places poor in this nutrient.
Numerous ornamental varieties of mallow have been bred with blue, purple, pink, and white flowers. Common mallow should be trimmed after the first flowering.
Easy to propagate both from herbaceous cuttings and seeds. Once planted, it renews itself and can self-sow like weeds in other beds. Rust of hollyhock develops on common mallow, and many insects that can infect other representatives of the mallow family in our surroundings.
Contrary to its Polish name, common mallow is not at all wild, but had been cultivated for thousands of years, then escaped from the crops. It is an ancient vegetable, medicinal herb, ornamental, honey and dyeing plant. Young delicate leaves, shoots, and even flowers were eaten in salads. The infusion of dried leaves used to be drunk like tea. Nice yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the herb and seeds. An alkali detection reagent was produced from the flowers. As a herb, it was used for enemas in toddlers, for runny nose and cough in adults. In many countries, the cultivation of common mallow has been abandoned in favor of the tastier and more powerful marsh mallows Althaea officinalis , and ornamental mallows.
Another species that has displaced common mallow from crops turned out to be jute mallow Corchorus olitoriusalso called “Jew’s mallow” or vegetable corchorus. Jute mallow not only tastes similar, but also provides fibers for dressings and upholstery, as well as seeds that act on the heart.
In Bavaria, attempts are being made to produce biogas and straw from common mallow grown in mixtures with mugwort and tansy. Common mallow was also used as a test for female fertility: if the peed on plant withered within three days, the lady was considered sterile; if such a peed on mallow thrived, it was a sign of a potential large number of healthy children.
Eagerly visited by bees, long flowering (from June to October). Mallows pollen is not collected by bees, but nectar is highly valued by insects and their keepers. Mallows differentiate the bee pastures and have a positive effect on the aroma and taste of honey.
The so-called “Moorish mallow”, described in beekeeping textbooks as a separate, Mediterranean. Today is recognized as a group of common mallow varieties bred for the needs of beekeeping.