Herb latin name: Malva alcea

Family: Malvaceae (Mallow Family)

Medicinal use of Malva alcea:

The leaves are demulcent. They are also used as a mouthwash for inflammatory and catarrhal conditions.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Gardens, vineyards and waste places.

Edible parts of Malva alcea:

Leaves - raw or cooked. A mild pleasant flavour. The leaves are mucilaginous and fairly bland, this is a very good perennial substitute for lettuce in a salad, producing fresh leaves from spring until the middle of summer, or until the autumn from self-sown plants. Flowers - raw. A very decorative addition to the salad bowl, they have a mild flavour and a texture similar to the leaves. Seed - raw. Best used before it is fully mature, the seed has a pleasant nutty taste but it is rather small and fiddly to harvest.

Other uses of the herb:

A fibre obtained from the stem is used for making cordage. Cream, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seed heads. The seed yields 15% oil. The uses of this oil have not been given though it is almost certainly edible.

Propagation of Malva alcea:

Seed - best sown in early spring in a cold frame. The seed germinates quickly and easily. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in their permanent positions in the early summer. If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown outdoors in situ in the middle to late spring. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Gardens, vineyards and waste places.

Known hazards of Malva alcea:

Although we have seen no reports of toxicity for this species, when grown on nitrogen rich soils (and particularly when these are cultivated inorganically), the leaves of some species tend to concentrate high levels of nitrates in their leaves. The leaves are perfectly wholesome at all other times.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.