Herb: Jew's Mallow

Latin name: Corchorus olitorius

Family: Tiliaceae (Linden Family)

Medicinal use of Jew's Mallow:

The leaves are demulcent, diuretic, febrifuge and tonic. They are used in the treatment of chronic cystitis, gonorrhoea and dysuria. A cold infusion is said to restore the appetite and strength. The seeds are purgative. Injections of olitoriside, an extract from the plant, markedly improve cardiac insufficiencies and have no cumulative attributes, hence, it can serve as a substitute for strophanthin.

Description of the plant:


3.5 m
(11 feet)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Original habitat is obscure.

Edible parts of Jew's Mallow:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Young leaves are added to salads whilst older leaves are cooked as a pot-herb. High in protein. The dried leaves can be used as a thickener in soups. A tea is made from the dried leaves. Immature fruits are added to salads or used as a potherb.

Other uses of the herb:

A fibre is obtained from the stems, it is the main source of jute but is considered to be inferior to the fibre obtained from C. capsularis. The fibre is somewhat coarse and is used mainly for sackcloth etc. The stems are harvested when the plant is in flower and are then retted (allowed to begin to rot) so that the fibre can be extracted. This species tends to branch making fibre extraction more difficult. Growing the plants very close together will prevent some of the branching. If used in making paper, the fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then ball milled for 4? hours. The paper is grey/buff. Fibre yields run ca 800-1600 kg/ha with exceptional cases of 2400 in India, and genetic potential of 4000 kg/ha, the fibre representing ca 6% of the green weight. Intercropped with Vigna, jute has yielded 3270 kg compared to 2290 monocropped. The very light and soft wood is used in making sulphur matches.

Propagation of Jew's Mallow:

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring, after the last expected frosts. In areas with hot summers it should be possible to sow the seed in situ in mid spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Original habitat is obscure.

Known hazards of Corchorus olitorius:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.