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Common Mallow

Malva sylvestris

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Malvaceae (Mallow)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
180 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, seaside, wasteland.

Pink, 5 petals
Pinkish-purple with dark veins, up to 4cm. 5 notched petals. Flower stalks are slender.
Round, flat, cheese-like wedges (nutlets) in 10 to 20 sections. This flower is sometimes called 'cheeseweed' because of the shape of its fruit. The fruit are also net-veined and sharp-edged.
The leaves are palmately lobed, toothed and stalked.
Common Mallow has a subtle and delicate scent. The fragrance is generally mild, and its floral notes are not overpowering. The scent of Common Mallow is often described as gentle and pleasant, adding a subtle natural aroma to outdoor spaces where the plant is present. While not as strong as some other flowering plants, it contributes a soft and appealing fragrance to its surroundings.
Other Names:
Blue Mallow, Bread-and-cheese, Cheese Cakes, Cheese Flower, Cheese Plant, Cheeses, Cheeseweed, Country Mallow, Creeping Charlie, High Mallow, Hock, Hock Herb, Low Mallow, Marsh Mallow, Mauls, Maws, Pick-cheese, Round Dock, Tall Mallow, Wild Mallow, Wood Mallow.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Malva sylvestris, also known as tall mallow or high mallow, is a herbaceous perennial plant in the Malvaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, but has been introduced to many other parts of the world as a garden plant. The leaves and flowers of the plant have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, and the plant is also grown for ornamental purposes. It is hardy in zones 4-8 and can reach up to 6 ft tall.


Common mallow, also known as Malva sylvestris, is a plant species that belongs to the family Malvaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia and has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. In this blog, we will explore the various aspects of common mallow, including its description, habitat, uses, and benefits.


Common mallow is an herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant that can grow up to a height of 6 feet. It has a long, slender stem that is covered with fine hairs and is often branched. The leaves are alternate, round to kidney-shaped, and have a toothed margin. The flowers are usually pink, but can also be white, lavender, or purple. They are bowl-shaped and have five petals, with a diameter of 3 to 5 cm. The fruit of the plant is a disc-shaped schizocarp that contains several small, kidney-shaped seeds.


Common mallow can be found growing in a wide range of habitats, including roadsides, fields, meadows, and waste places. It prefers well-drained soil and full sunlight, but can also tolerate partial shade. The plant is often considered a weed due to its ability to grow quickly and spread easily.


Common mallow has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The leaves and flowers of the plant are used to make a tea that can help soothe sore throats, ease digestive problems, and relieve constipation. The tea is also believed to have diuretic properties and can help reduce inflammation.

In addition to its medicinal uses, common mallow is also used in cooking. The young leaves can be used in salads, while the older leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach. The flowers can be used to make a sweet, syrupy drink, and the seeds can be roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute.


Common mallow has several health benefits, including:

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties: The plant contains compounds that can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can help relieve pain and swelling.

  2. Digestive aid: Common mallow can help soothe the digestive tract and ease constipation.

  3. Diuretic properties: The plant can help increase urine production and promote the elimination of toxins from the body.

  4. Immune system support: Common mallow contains antioxidants that can help boost the immune system and protect against free radical damage.

  5. Skin health: The plant can be used topically to help soothe irritated skin and reduce inflammation.

Common mallow is a versatile plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary properties. It is easy to grow and can be a valuable addition to any garden or herb patch. Whether used for its health benefits or as a tasty ingredient in recipes, common mallow is a plant worth getting to know.

Facts about the Common Mallow

Here are some additional details and fun facts about common mallow:

  1. History: Common mallow has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. The Greek physician Hippocrates used the plant to treat wounds, while the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder recommended it for a variety of ailments, including coughs and digestive problems.

  2. Symbolism: In medieval times, common mallow was associated with love and fertility. It was believed that if a young woman placed a sprig of mallow in her shoe, she would soon meet her true love.

  3. Other uses: Common mallow has also been used to make paper, dye fabric, and as a natural remedy for gum disease.

  4. Cultural significance: Common mallow is known by many names in different cultures. In Arabic, it is called khobiza and is used to make a popular salad. In Japan, it is called yamaaoi and is used in traditional medicine to treat coughs and sore throats.

  5. Conservation status: Common mallow is not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species. However, like many wild plants, it can be impacted by habitat loss and other environmental factors.

  6. Companion plant: Common mallow can also be grown as a companion plant to other crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. It can help improve soil health, attract beneficial insects, and provide shade for young seedlings.
  7. Wildlife habitat: Common mallow can provide a habitat and food source for various wildlife, such as bees, butterflies, and birds. The plant produces nectar and pollen that are important for pollinators, and its seeds are a valuable food source for birds.

  8. Growing and harvesting: Common mallow is easy to grow from seed and can be harvested throughout the growing season. The leaves and flowers can be harvested when young and tender, while the seeds can be harvested in the fall when they have turned brown and dry.

  9. Precautions: While common mallow is generally safe to use for most people, there are some precautions to keep in mind. The plant can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals, and the seeds should not be consumed in large quantities as they can have a laxative effect.

  10. Medicinal properties: Common mallow has been traditionally used for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and wound-healing properties. It contains high amounts of mucilage, a sticky substance that can help soothe irritated mucous membranes, including those in the throat, stomach, and intestines.

  11. Respiratory health: Common mallow has been used to relieve symptoms of respiratory conditions, such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma. Its mucilage content can help loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory tract, making it easier to breathe.

  12. Skin health: Common mallow has been used topically to soothe and heal various skin conditions, including burns, rashes, and insect bites. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce redness and swelling, while its antiseptic properties can help prevent infections.

  13. Culinary uses: Common mallow has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach, while the flowers can be used to make a sweet syrup or infused into vinegar.

  14. Herbal tea: Common mallow can be used to make a soothing and flavorful herbal tea. To make the tea, steep a handful of fresh or dried leaves and flowers in hot water for 5-10 minutes. You can add honey or lemon to taste.

  15. Sustainable gardening: Common mallow is a hardy and resilient plant that can help improve soil health and prevent erosion. It is also a great option for gardeners who want to grow plants without the use of chemicals or pesticides.

In summary, common mallow is a versatile and beneficial plant that can be used for a range of purposes, from promoting respiratory health to improving soil health. Whether you're interested in its medicinal properties, culinary uses, or sustainable gardening benefits, common mallow is a plant that is definitely worth considering.


Video 1: Common Mallow filmed at Orford, Suffolk on the 28th June 2022.


Video 2: Common Mallow filmed at Southport in Lancashire on the 4th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

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