Mallow

Strong with gentle action

For Christians, the herb is symbolic of forgiveness for a hardened heart. But Mallow’s proverbial power of softening whatever has become hardened applies not only for spiritual or holistic matters. Pharmacologists are also aware of the herb’s mucilage that softens other substances. But Mallow has many more positive properties.

‘Soft’ by name

The genus or scientific name ‘Malva’ is derived from Greek ‘malakós’ meaning ‘soft’. This refers to the softening effect of the plant’s mucilage. The species name ‘sylvestris’ derives from the Latin ‘silvestris’ meaning ‘growing in forest areas’. But nowadays the plant rarely grows there.
In Switzerland, some people refer to Mallow as ‘Käslikraut’ or ‘Käsepappel’ (‘little cheese herb’, ‘cheese pulp’) because the round fruit shape is reminiscent of a cheese wheel. The derivation ‘Pappel’ is also an allusion to the plant mucilage that resembles pulpy food for young children. Other common names are: Country Mallow, Wood Mallow, Tall Mallow, Cheese-cake and Round Dock.

Bare facts

Plant family: Mallow (Malvaceae)
Flowering season: June to October
Harvest: For the flowers: June to October; for the leaves: July to August
Origin: Europe
Grows here: Waysides and fence perimeters, sunny meadows, waste ground and rubble, vineyards and occasionally in woodland

Gallery

Good for ‘small talk’!

Hildegard von Bingen called Mallow ‘Babela’ and used the boiled roots to aid digestion.
In 2003, the Swiss postal service issued a stamp depicting a wild Mallow.
The Chinese called Mallow ‘Tung Kuei Tze’ and used it for treating digestive problems.
The Romans mixed Mallow with oil, salt, wine and honey and used this mixture as a basic recipe to treat a range of ailments. This is because Mallow has a softening effect, while oil smoothens, salt releases energy and wine boosts the circulation. Honey also strengthens the body’s immune system and helps relaxation. The Romans therefore called their mixture ‘omnimorbium’, a remedy for all kinds of ailments.

‘First aid’ tips

The mucilous substances are called galacturonorhamane and arabinoglacatane. The flavanoids are hypolaetin-3-O-glucoside, gossypetin 3-glucoside and flavonoid sulphate. Other active ingredients include polysaccharide and tannins.
Mallow helps alleviate mucous membrane irritations in the mouth and throat, dry and irritable coughs, gastrointestinal and stomach complaints.

Good for the Ricola 13-herb blend

The mucilage substances are good for the mouth and respiratory tracts.