Malva sylvestris is a species of the mallow genus Malva in the family of Malvaceae and is considered to be the type species for the genus.
Known as common mallow to English speaking Europeans, it acquired the common names of cheeses, high mallow and tall mallow (mauve des bois by the French) as it migrated from its native home in Western Europe, North Africa and Asia through the English speaking world. It is a vigorously healthy plant with showy flowers of bright mauve-purple, with dark veins; a handsome plant, often standing 3 or 4 feet (1 m) high and growing freely in fields, hedgerows and in fallow fields.
Flowering time: July–September.
An old lady in Cricieth, Caernarfon, tells me that mallow leaves, when she was a youngster over 60 years ago, were used as a remedy if one suffered from toothache. The leaf would be pressed on the area of the mouth where pain seemed to be at its worse [Caernarfon, Gwynedd, August 1995].
Malva sylvestris – large colony around farmyard at Llanfaredd, Radnor, said by owner to have been used as a leaf poultice to cure sprains of horses’ legs [Llandrindod Wells, Powys, September 1991
Common mallow was traditionally a useful plant which was highly regarded as vegetable, but most of all as a versatile medicinal plant. Up to the beginning of modern times, the species had a reputation of being a universal remedy.
Mallow reduced fever, relieved nearly all pains and healed insect stings and wounds. Mallow leaf was used to induce childbirth and act as an indicator for a woman’s fertility. It was believed that mallow helped people rise above their urges and passions, so it was an important antidote for love potions. And best of all, mallow pills could cure stupidity!
A large part of those folk traditions connected with mallow’s medicinal uses are purely superstitious, but no smoke without fire: mallow contains compounds which activate the immune defence system as well as substances soothing infections, and its medicinal uses are still being researched.
The mallow also can be eaten as food, in salads mixed with other vegetables. Moreover its medicinal properties, is a plant very rich in vitamin A, B, C, and E. The resulting liquid from boiling a handful of flowers is also a good facial toner.
"Aut'fais nou faîthait d'l'onguent dé p'tites mauves
pouor des bliesseûthes"
"Time past one made ointment from wild mallows for