Malva sylvestris is commonly known as Mallow. This member of the Malvaceae family is known by other names such as Malva ambigua, Malva erecta and Malva mauritiana. It is a Biennial /Perennial herb, which can grow to a height of 0.45m. It is in bloom from June to September, and seeds ripen from July to October. It grows into extremely attractive pink flowers, striated with purple. The flowers have both male and female organs, (hermaphrodite) and are pollinated by bees. It is endemic to Europe. However; it is widely grown all over the world. It does best in woodland gardens, sunny edges, dappled shades, cultivated beds and hedgerows.
Malva sylvestris is used as an expectorant and in the treatment of genital-urinary tract inflammation. It contains several vitamins, essential oil, tannins and flavonoids. The flavonoids, hypolaetin and gossypin, attribute to the analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties. It is also used as an astringent, diuretic, emollient and laxative. The leaves and flowers are the parts used for medicinal purposes. Their demulcent properties make them also valuable in the treatment of bruises, insect bites and other skin inflammation, including sunburns. They can be eaten to treat digestive disorders. When combined with eucalyptus, they are also a remedy for colds, coughs, and other chest inflammations. The leaves can be used fresh (if available) or can be harvested in the spring to be dried and used throughout the year. The flowers should be harvested in the summer months.
Malva sylvestris leaves, flowers and seeds are also edible. The leaves can be used raw or cooked. They have a very nice flavor, and in Europe they are used for soups, (lentil, split peas, beans) and salads. The seeds can be used as condiments as they have a nice nutty flavor. The flowers together with the leaves are commonly used to flavor teas.
Malva sylvestris is an easily grown plant. It is recommended to use garden soil or compost. However; it also grows in poor soils as long as it is it relatively neutral in terms of Ph. It should be well drained, moist, and fertilized from time to time. It can be grown in full or partial sun. In full sun, it will produce a larger crop of leaves. The seeds are best off being planted in early spring. Plant at a depth of 1/16th” and maintain a temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 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.
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