Caring For Common Mallow Plants In The Garden

Few “weeds” bring a smile to my face like common mallow does. Often considered a nuisance to many gardeners, I see common mallow (Malva neglecta) as a beautiful wild little treasure. Growing wherever it chooses to, common mallow has many health, beauty and culinary benefits. Before cursing at and killing this so-called “weed,” continue reading to learn about common mallow plants in the garden.

About Common Mallow Plants

Malva neglecta, commonly called common mallow, is in the mallow family along with hollyhock and hibiscus. Growing 6-24 inches tall, common mallow has pink or white hollyhock-like flowers atop long stems covered in circular, wavy-edged leaves. Its resemblance to hollyhock is undeniable. Common mallow plants flower from early spring to mid fall.

Sometimes called ‘cheese weed’ because its seeds resemble cheese wheels, common mallows are self-sowing annuals or biennials. Common mallow plants grow from a long, tough taproot that allows them to survive in harsh, dry soil conditions, which many other plants would suffer in. This is why you often see these pretty little mallows popping up along sandy driveways, roadsides or other neglected places.

Common mallow was once highly regarded as a medicinal plant by Native Americans. They chewed on its tough root to clean their teeth. Common mallow was also used to treat wounds, toothaches, inflammations, bruises, insect bites or stings, sore throats and coughs as well as urinary, kidney or bladder infections. The leaves were bruised, then applied to the skin to draw out splinters, thorns and stingers too.

Common mallow root extracts were used to treat tuberculosis and new studies have found it to be an effective treatment for high blood sugar. As a natural astringent, anti-inflammatory and emollient, common mallow plants are used to soothe and soften skin.

High in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, selenium and vitamins A and C, common mallow was a good source of nutrition in many recipes. Leaves were eaten like spinach, cooked or served raw. The leaves were also used to thicken soups or stews. A paste was made of the roots that was then cooked like scrambled eggs. The seeds, raw or roasted, were eaten like nuts. In addition to its health, beauty and culinary uses, common mallow is an important plant for pollinators.

Caring for Common Mallow in Gardens

Since the plant has no special care requirements, growing common mallow is a snap. It will grow in most soil conditions, though it seems to prefer sandy, dry soil.

It grows in sun to part shade. However, it will reseed itself throughout the growing season, and can become a little invasive.

For common mallow control, deadhead spent blooms before they can go to seed. These seeds can remain viable in the ground for decades before germinating. If common mallow plants pop up where you do not want them, dig them up and make sure to get all of the taproot.

Common Mallow: A Strangely Erotic Medicinal Powerhouse

Malva neglecta

Pull Up Your Plants!Follow Aug 2, 2017 · 8 min read

A Serious Note of Caution: you don’t need to be an expert on all wild plants to start foraging your food and medicine; you only need to be an expert on the plant you are going to use or consume. You’ve got one job: be certain. Any doubt is a warning to yourself… listen.

A fun way to find out how other cultures use plants is to search their common names and translate the results.

Binomial Etymology — Malva neglecta

Malv *a is “the mallow;” neglecta is “neglected” (Borror, 1960). The Latin name, malva, comes from the Greek term for mallow, malache, which was derived from the Greek term, malakos, which means “soft” (Moreno, 2005).

Binomial Pronunciation — Mal-Vuh. Neglect-Uh

USDA Status — Weedy, introduced, invasive.

Family — Malvaceae

Family Characteristics — Plants in the Malvacea family have multiple stamina merged into a singular column; here is a pictorial representation of this statement. The plants themselves are mucilaginous.


Bearing one of the more appropriate species names, this much maligned edible and medicinal plant has been used as a synonym for loathsomely boring even by the Biblical Old Testament. Like a soul without culture, mallow has often been regarded like a cold and clinically living noun. The vast amount of modern literature naming Malva neglecta do so with a mind for eradication, or simply as a footnote in an ecological list of wayside things; however, there is more to the story. This same plant that you step on as a weed in your lawn has been utilized in sex magic and poetry for millennia and its uses as a medicinal herb by the ancient sages of proto-science are legion. Science is now beginning to discover new pharmacological properties of this plant, and — hey — I find it to be a pretty tasty plant.


This plant can be an annual, winter annual, or biennial with rounded, palmately lobed leaves (fig 2) with a heart shaped base where it attaches to the petiole. The leaves have five to seven lobes. The petiole tends to be longer than the leaf diameter. The flowers are axillary (fig 1), cup shaped, five-petaled, and the calyx tends to be around half the length of the flower petals (fig 3). The flower colors can range from white to pink to shades of lavender and blue. Sometimes delicate streaks of color can be seen radiating outwards from the center of the flower. Strangely, the stigma are elongated and tend to twine around the stamens making self-fertilization likely if not inevitable. The fruits are shaped like small green-lobed wheels with a circular indentation around the center (fig 4). This generally low spreading plant has viscous and mucilaginous qualities when crushed.

Fig 1: The common mallow plant. Fig 2: This is a typical progression of leaf growth for the common mallow. Fig 3: The common mallow flower. Fig 4: the fruit of the common mallow.


This cosmopolitan weed can be found growing in waste areas, weedy parking lots, lawns, and cultivated gardens everywhere.

Edible Uses

Mallow is not aggressive in terms of its flavor, and its texture can be described as crisp to soft and viscid. The leaves and stems can be eaten fresh in salads. Since the leaves are markedly textured, it is important to wash them thoroughly as they can accumulate dust and dirt. Mallow can be dried/toasted and used as tea, or used to give soups a thicker body. The fruits are a delightfully crispy nibble raw, and can be pickled much like capers (Harrington, 1972). The seeds are also edible (Malva Neglecta, n.d.). The leaves can be used as an attractive garnish, or sautéed with oil, salt, and vinegar. The common mallow is consumed frequently in Turkey (Ozbucak, Kutbay, & Akcin, 2006). I have fried mallow leaves in hot oil to make delightfully crispy chips.

Folk Remedies

Mallow was/is traditionally used as dermatological aid in the healing of sores and swellings by the Cherokee, Iroquois, Mahuna, Navaho, and Ramah peoples in various topical poultices and infusions (Moerman, 2009). Incredibly fond of “malache” as medicine, Pliny the Elder (23–79 A.D.) recommended a decoction of the root for dandruff, the warm juice of the plant to treat melancholy, and the leaves boiled as a potherb in milk to cure the common cough. Pliny also touted the plant’s action as a mild laxative (Pliny’s Natural History, pg. 284). The juice of mallow was said to have been used with oil to prevent hair loss (Tynan & Maitland, 1909). In Eastern Anatolia, Malva is traditionally used as a potherb and cure for stomach ache, diarrhea, and asthma (Türker & Dalar, 2013). Even when toasted as a tea, the slightly thick quality mallow leaves impart to water is soothing to sore throats during sickness. In Pakistan, ingesting the plant is thought to help with hemorrhoids (Khan et al., 2013), and pulverized mallow seeds are used to treat bladder ulcers and coughs (Aziz et al., 2016). Italians use the plant for tea to help with inflammation and as a “gargle,” presumably, t0 help with a sore throat (Pieroni & Giusti, 2009). The people of Turkey are reported to use mallow as a compress to promote the maturation of abscesses (Özgökçe & Özçelik, 2004).

Pharmacological Effects

The plant exhibits potential antimicrobial and anti-fungal activities (Bushra et al., 2012). A particular use of mallow extract to treat acne is legally patented (“Composition for treating skin barrier and reducing acne”). Ethanol extracts of Malva neglecta have shown promising antibiotic properties against certain species of Staphylococcus (Seyyednejad et al., 2010), and relatively strong ACE inhibitory effects highlighting its potential effectiveness is relieving hypertension (Ozkan et al., 2016).


Pliny the Elder held that simply sprinkling mallow seeds on to your genitalia would produce sexual desire to “an infinite degree” (Pliny, 1885). Mallow was eaten and ritualistically vomited by the Iroquois as a love medicine (Moerman, 2009).


The Greek philosopher, mystic, and mathematician, Pythagoras (570–495 BC), was said to prepare a meal including the leaves of mallow for hunger, and another preparation including mallow seeds for thirst when going on extended sojourns within shrines (Riedweg, Rendall, & Schatzmann, 2005).


Job. 6:5–6:7 New Revised Standard Version

“5. Does the wild ass bray over its grass, or the ox low over its fodder?

6. Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any flavor in the juice of mallows?

7. My appetite refuses to touch them; they are like food that is loathsome to me”

Job 30:4 KJV Bible

“Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper

roots for their meat.”

The Brook

“With many a curve my banks I fret

By many a field and fallow

And many a fairy foreland set

With willow, weed, and mallow ”

(Dickson, 1856–1875).

Spring is at the Door

“Her rosy feet are bare,

The wind is in her hair,

And O her eyes are April eyes, very fair.

After her footsteps follow

The mullein and the mallow;

She scatters golden powder on the sallow”

(Quilter, 1914).

“… the mallow is not to be despised; rough though it be and the companion of coarse weeds, its satin-like flowers of deep pink and dark-green reniform leaves set off many a bit of barren waste (Bloom, 1903).”


The fruit of Malva neglecta has been shown to contain natural antioxidants (Türker & Dalar, 2013).

Recipes Challenges

Mallow Leaves Salad (Ebegümeci Salatası)

Weird Facts

Michael Moore asserts that chickens allowed to feed on Malva neglecta will lay eggs with pink albumens; this is to say the chickens will produce eggs with a egg-pinks instead of egg-whites (1989). Oh yeah, and in case you missed it, Pliny the Elder emphatically believed that sprinkling mallow seeds upon your nether-region will result in a near-instantanious erection/arousal (Pliny, 1885). One is left to wonder how good ole’ Pliny eventually found this out.


Malva Neglecta. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Harrington, H. D. (1972). Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains (5th ed.). Albquerque, NM: The University of New Mexico Press.

Borror, D. J. (1960). Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms (1st ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.

Biola. (2005). Unbound bible. Retrieved July 20, 2016, from

Moerman, D. E., & Moerman, D. E. (2009). Native American medicinal plants: An ethnobotanical dictionary. Portland, Or.: Timber Press.

Dickson, E. (1865–1875). The brook . Philadelphia: Lee & Walker .

Quilter, R. (1914). Spring is at the door: song : op. 18, no. 4. New York: Ricordi.

Bloom, J. H. (1903). Shakespeare’s garden. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.

Tynan, K., & Maitland, F. (1909). The book of flowers. London: Smith/Elder.

Pliny, t. Elder. (1857). The natural history of Pliny. London: H. G. Bohn

Türker, M., & Dalar, A. (2013). In vitro antioxidant and enzyme inhibitory properties and phenolic composition of M. neglecta Wallr. (Malvaceae) fruit: A traditional medicinal fruit from Eastern Anatolia. Industrial Crops And Products

“Composition for treating skin barrier and reducing acne”). 2015: n. pag. Print.

Moore, M. (1989). Medicinal plants of the desert and canyon West. Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press.

Pieroni, A., & Giusti, M. (2009). Alpine ethnobotany in Italy: traditional knowledge of gastronomic and medicinal plants among the Occitans of the upper Varaita valley, Piedmont. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine,5(1), 32. doi:10.1186/1746–4269–5–32



A close relative of hollyhock, the mallow is an easy-to-grow, short-lived perennial that is easily started from seed. Tall stems of small blossoms are held high above softly lobed kidney-shape foliage that looks great mixed among larger shrubs and other perennials. Planted once, mallow will often reseed itself for a continuous display of blooms year after year. The flat, buttonlike seed pods resemble tiny wheels of cheese—leading to mallow’s lesser known name of cheese weed.

genus name
  • Malva sp.
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Annual,
  • Perennial
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • Up to 2 feet
flower color
  • Purple,
  • White,
  • Pink
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom
problem solvers
  • Drought Tolerant
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Cut Flowers
  • 3,
  • 4,
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8
  • Seed

Garden Plans For Mallow

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Mallow Flowers

Mallow’s flowers come in shades of pink, white, purple, red, yellow, or orange, which look stunning when planted en masse in cottage gardens or borders. Individual flowers comprise five heart-shape petals, many of which will feature darker veins. The flowers appear from early summer until fall, as long as deadheading takes place to encourage continued blooming. Mallow’s large medium-green leaves make a coarsely textured background for its flowers and other nearby plants. Some species are grown specifically for their flowers. Other species are prized for their leaves, which are used as vegetables when cooking or medical remedies.

Mallow Plant Care

Mallow is easy to grow and start from seed, as long as you choose a location that provides moist, well-drained, organically rich soil and full sun. The latter promotes vigorous growth and reduces the need for staking. Plant the seeds directly in the garden and keep the area evenly moist until plants emerge. Most species of this plant are short-lived perennials; others are annuals or biannuals—the latter of which will not bloom during the first season after planting. Stay alert, though, because mallow’s enthusiasm for self-sowing can cause it to invade lawns, fields, roadways, even urban waste areas—especially in North America where it is not native.

See more perennials for dry climates here.

Japanese beetles consider the foliage and flowers of this plant to be tasty treats. Mallow is prone to rust (small orange-to-brown blisters on the undersides of leaves), especially during the heat of summer. Although not harmful to the plant, rust is unsightly. Control rust by removing affected leaves early on and keeping foliage dry.

Learn how to stop Japanese beetles from eating your mallow plants.

More Varieties Of Mallow

Malva moschata

Small musk-scented rose-pink flowers bloom profusely from early summer to early fall. The leaves also release a musky scent, especially when crushed. Zones 3-8

Malva sylvestris

Malva sylvestris is the most commonly found mallow. These come in shades of pink and purple, often with darker veining of the blooms. Zones 4-8.

‘Zebrina’ Tree Mallow

Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’ has 2-inch pinkish flowers brilliantly centered and veined with strong purple. These cluster in the axils of dark green, lobed leaves on shrubby 3-foot stems. Zones 4-8.

Plant Mallow With:

Obedient plant is named for the way flowers that are moved to a new position on the stem stay in place, much to the delight of children.It produces showy, unusual flower spikes with little tubular flowers in white, pink, or purple. They’re excellent as cut flowers. Square stems carry pairs of mid-green (sometimes variegated), lance-shaped foliage, toothed along the edges. Obedient plant tolerates most soils, but tends to become aggressive when given ample water and full sun. It tolerates most soils.

The inflated buds of balloon flowers are fun to pop. And they make great cut flowers. Cut them in the bud stage, and sear the base of the stems to prevent the milky sap from seeping out and fouling the water.Most commonly available in blue-violet, balloon flowers also come in pink and white, as well as shorter forms that are better suited for rock gardens and containers. In fall, the foliage of balloon flower turns clear gold, so don’t cut the plant down too early — enjoy the show! They tolerate light shade, but not wet feet or drought.

Globe thistle is one of the most elegantly colored plants around. It has fantastical large blue balls of steel blue flowers in midsummer, which would be enough. But making it even more lovely are its large coarse, grayish-green leaves, which set off the flower beautifully.If you can bear to separate them from the foliage, globe thistle makes a great cut flower, lasting for weeks in the vase. It also dries well. It’s bothered by few pests or diseases. If it likes its conditions, it will reseed fairly readily. If you want to prevent this, deadhead flowers shortly after they fade.

Malva moschata f. alba

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil
  • Rate of growth: average to fast growing
  • Flowering period: June to September
  • Flower colour: pure white
  • Hardiness: fully hardy
    A succession of pure white, saucer-shaped flowers appear throughout the summer aabove the finely cut green leaves, which release a faint musky aroma when crushed. This elegant musk mallow is possibly the prettiest of all the mallows and it makes an excellent, long-flowering choice for a sunny herbaceous or mixed border. Sometimes short-lived, these plants will self seed freely in theright spot.
    Winner of an Royal Horticultural Society, Award of Garden Merit for reliability and good performance.
    Part of the seed range produced by Mr Fothergill’s Seeds in partnership with the RHS.
  • Garden care: Avoid excessive feeding as this will usually encourage leafier growth and fewer flowers. Provide support when grown in more exposed locations.
  • Sow: February – May
  • Flowering: June – September
  • Approximate quantity: 100 seeds.

Malva Species, White Mallow, Musk Mallow



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 °C (-40 °F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 °C (-35 °F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown – Tell us



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Blooms repeatedly

Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Unknown – Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fairfield, California

Littleton, Colorado

Fishers, Indiana

Massena, New York

Lima, Ohio

Langley, Washington

Port Orchard, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Porterfield, Wisconsin

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White Musk is a viscous liquid on an Essential Oil base, does not contain alcohol. White Musk mostly for men with intense specific smell, and a persistent fragrance with animal notes. Traditional means of Oriental peoples to create an intense sexual background.

White Musk is isolated and produced from the glands of the musk deer. Deer marks its territory by dropping bags which are formed from the gland located on the abdomen of the male deer. Its plays the role of a chemical signal of deer, for marking its territory, attracting individuals of a different sex and scaring off other males. But we use Malva Moschata flower as it gives the same Aroma and it’s not painful for animals.

White Musk has always been very appreciated Aroma Oil since ancient times and is even more appreciated today, primarily by perfumers, because this the smell is one of the most demanded unique flavors of the East.

In Egypt there are special farms which grows flower for Musk production. White Musk Aroma Oil has been popular since a long time in the Middle East where it is the most popular male fragrance for the present day. Egypt producing wonderful Aroma Oil at “El Baraka” factory. Right now you can buy this Aroma Oil at our Egyptian online store by the best price.

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