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Rough Mallow

Malva hirsuta

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Malvaceae (Mallow)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Biennial
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, grassland, roadsides, wasteland, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Lilac-coloured flowers about 1 inch (2.5cm) in size. The tips are the petals are very slightly notched. The outer sepal ring forms a lobed cup.
A nutlet.
3 to 5 lobed leaves, sometimes palmately lobed. The upper leaves are more deeply lobed than the lower leaves. Like a small version of Musk Mallow (Malva moschata). Annual, sometimes biennial.
Other Names:
Hairy Mallow.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Malva hirsuta, also known as Hairy Mallow, is a herbaceous perennial plant in the Malvaceae family. It is native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. The plant typically grows to be around 2-3 feet tall and has hairy, lobed leaves and small, pale pink or white flowers that bloom in summer and fall. The plant prefers well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. It can be found in a variety of habitats such as roadsides, waste ground, and grassland. It is similar to other species in the Malva genus and it has been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments. It is also considered as a weed in some area, due to its ability to grow in disturbed areas.


Rough Mallow, scientifically known as Malva hirsuta, is a plant species that belongs to the family Malvaceae. It is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant that is native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. Rough Mallow is also widely distributed in the Americas, including North, Central, and South America, where it has been introduced and naturalized.

Rough Mallow can grow up to 1 meter tall and has a hairy stem that is often reddish or purplish in color. The leaves are also hairy and are characterized by their deeply lobed and toothed margins. The flowers are small, pink or purple in color, and have five petals. They bloom from May to September and are followed by fruit capsules that contain numerous small seeds.

Rough Mallow is a very adaptable plant that can grow in a variety of habitats, including fields, gardens, waste areas, and disturbed sites. It can also tolerate a wide range of soil types and can grow in both full sun and partial shade. Rough Mallow is often considered a weed due to its ability to spread quickly and compete with other plants for resources.

Despite its status as a weed, Rough Mallow has a long history of medicinal use. The plant has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive disorders, and skin irritations. The leaves and flowers are rich in mucilage, a sticky substance that can soothe and protect irritated tissues. Rough Mallow is also a rich source of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and prevent cellular damage.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Rough Mallow is also a valuable source of food for both humans and wildlife. The young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw or cooked and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. The seeds can also be eaten and are often used in birdseed mixes.

Rough Mallow has also been used in traditional medicine as a natural remedy for sore throat and coughs. The mucilage in the plant can help soothe and coat the throat, reducing irritation and providing relief. It has also been used to treat skin conditions, such as burns and wounds, due to its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties.

Furthermore, Rough Mallow has been studied for its potential use in the treatment of diabetes. Studies have shown that extracts from the plant can help lower blood glucose levels, possibly due to its high fiber content and antioxidant properties.

Rough Mallow is also an important plant for biodiversity, providing habitat and food for a variety of insects, birds, and small mammals. Its flowers are a source of nectar for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, and the seeds are eaten by birds and rodents.

In addition to its medicinal and ecological importance, Rough Mallow has also been used in horticulture. Its attractive pink or purple flowers and fuzzy leaves make it a popular ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes. It is also easy to grow from seed, making it a popular choice for wildflower gardens and meadows.

However, it is important to note that Rough Mallow can become invasive in some regions, outcompeting native plants and disrupting natural ecosystems. Therefore, it is recommended to plant it with caution and only in areas where it will not cause harm to the local environment.

Rough Mallow is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, making it a popular natural remedy for a range of inflammatory conditions. Studies have shown that the plant extract can reduce inflammation in the body by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that play a key role in the body's immune response.

Furthermore, Rough Mallow has been studied for its potential use in the treatment of certain types of cancer. Some studies have shown that extracts from the plant can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, possibly due to its high antioxidant content and ability to induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in cancer cells.

In traditional medicine, Rough Mallow has also been used to relieve pain and promote relaxation. The plant has mild sedative properties and can help calm the nervous system, making it a popular natural remedy for stress and anxiety.

Moreover, Rough Mallow has a long history of use in the culinary world. The leaves and young shoots of the plant are edible and have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. They can be used in salads, soups, and stews, or sautéed as a vegetable. In some cultures, the seeds are also roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

Rough Mallow has been used in the textile industry for centuries due to its strong fibers. The stems of the plant can be harvested and processed to create a durable and eco-friendly material that can be used to make clothing, rope, and other textiles.

Rough Mallow has also been studied for its potential use in the treatment of respiratory conditions. The plant contains compounds that can help loosen phlegm and promote expectoration, making it a popular natural remedy for coughs and bronchitis.

In addition, Rough Mallow has been used in cosmetic products due to its emollient properties. The plant extract can help soothe and moisturize the skin, making it a popular ingredient in skincare products such as lotions and creams.

Furthermore, Rough Mallow has been studied for its potential use in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. The plant contains compounds that can help reduce inflammation in the gut, making it a possible natural remedy for conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Moreover, Rough Mallow has been used in the production of paper. The fibers in the plant can be processed and formed into paper, providing a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional paper production methods.

Finally, Rough Mallow has cultural significance in some regions. In ancient Greece, the plant was associated with the goddess Aphrodite and was believed to have aphrodisiac properties. It was also used in traditional wedding ceremonies to symbolize love and fertility.

In conclusion, Rough Mallow is a versatile and valuable plant species with a wide range of potential uses and benefits. While it can become invasive in some regions, it is an important contributor to biodiversity and has a rich history of traditional uses. Further research is needed to fully understand its potential uses in modern medicine and industry.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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