Common Mallow or Malva Neglecta
Buttonweed, cheese plant, cheeseweed, dwarf mallow, and round leaf mallow are other names for the Common Mallow. I am continuing with this blog post series on the neglected plants that most refer to as weeds! If you missed Dandelion, Starflower, Ribwort Plantain, Common Nettle, and Chicory, please check those blog posts out to further read on benefits of these common plants. This is my last blog post on the series of my favorite plants, at least for now!
This plant has been famous in plenty of folklore throughout history. One, in particular, inspired the title of this blog post. Pliny the Elder held that simply sprinkling mallow seeds on to your genitalia would produce a sexual desire to
“an infinite degree” (Pliny, 1885).
Additionally, Mallow was eaten and ritualistically vomited by the Iroquois as a love medicine (Moerman, 2009) (1).
Whether you believe this folklore it is undeniable that common mallow had and still has a place in credible medical treatment.
Common Mallow has shown to be an effective antimicrobial and antifungal. A mallow extract treats acne and has a patent and is currently on the market. Ethanol extracts of Malva neglecta also have antibiotics properties to fight against Staphylococcus.
Consequently, common mallow has a relatively strong ACE inhibitory effect highlighting its potential effectiveness in relieving hypertension (1). Additionally, common mallow is packed with vitamins A,B,C,E; inulin; mucilage; phenols; flavonoids; essential fatty acids; fiber; calcium; magnesium; zinc; selenium; potassium and nutrients.
Common Mallow Edible Leaves, Seeds and Stem
Every part of the common mallow is edible the leaves, the seeds, the stem, roots, flowers, and the fruit.
Add the leaves to a salad. You can also add the leaves as a thickener to soups, stews, gravies, and sauces similar to okra. If you dry the leaves, it could then make it into tea. You can also try frying the leaves, for a crispy alternative.
Add the flower to a salad.
The seed pods can be substituted for most of the egg white if wanting to make mallow meringues. Just boil up the peeled seed pods using three parts water 1 part seed pods, and reduce the liquid by half. For every half cup of liquid add one egg white, ¼ tsp of cream of tartar, some vanilla and castor sugar, then whip it up until foamy and stiff, just like meringues (2). The seeds contain 21% protein and 15.2% fat.
You can also eat the stems fresh in salads.
The roots are rich with inulin to make soup for a home remedy treatment.
It is essential to wash the stems and leaves thoroughly as they can accumulate dust and dirt.
Does Common Mallow Grow Cheese?
Another edible part of the common mallow is the cheese shaped fruit. The fruit is ring-shaped and splits into numerous small seeds. This is why this plant is sometimes called cheese plant or cheeseweed.
Not Just “Common” Common Mallow
Common mallow is known to seed freely. Making it spread across large areas like many of the other under-appreciated plants.
“… 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 (1) (Bloom, 1903).”
I love ending this “weed” series with this quote because it’s a reminder to not hate these plants.
Please do not use chemical pesticides in your fight against these plants. Leave a comment or contact me if you need help finding a better way to remove these plants if you must!