Common Mallow – Malva SPP.: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Meringue of Wild Plants

Table of Contents

Related to marsh mallows, the malva spp. of mallow around Haliburton isn’t native. But it is an edible and medicinal wild plant with similar uses to the more popular marshmallow herb.

Common mallow (malva neglecta) is rare around Haliburton. You’re much more likely to find white or pink flowered musk mallow (malva moschata), listed as uncommon in Haliburton Flora. Their flowers look similar but the two species have quite different leaves. Neither are native here.

Common Mallow - Malva SPP.
Common Mallow – Malva SPP.
Common Mallow - Malva SPP.
Common Mallow – Malva SPP.

Edible Uses of Common Mallow

The young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. As usual, older greens become tough and bitter. Since the plant is mucilaginous, it can be used to thicken stews. The leaves make a soothing tea as well.

Nutty immature seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. The older seeds can be used as a grain.

The flower buds, flowers and fruits are all edible.

To make meringue boil the roots and skim off the mucilage for a meringue-like substitute for egg whites. I haven’t tested this, but will one day and I’ll update.

Medicinal Uses of Common Mallow

Common mallow is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Digestive
  • Integumentary

Medicinal tags include Anti-inflammatory, Astringent, Laxative, and Mucilage. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes, like its cousin marshmallow, the fresh or dried leaves for a tea to soothe mucous membranes. It’s more of a substitute when marshmallow isn’t available. The mucilage is soothing to skin, stomach, throat, etc. The leaves can also be chewed fresh to soothe a sore throat.

Common Mallow - Malva SPP.
Common Mallow – Malva SPP.

Alternative Uses of Mallows

The root can be used to clean teeth, like a wild toothbrush.

Cream, yellow and green dyes can all be obtained from different parts of the plant.

Growing Malva SPP.

For a similar look, swamp rose mallow (hibiscus moscheutos) is our native “mallow” and its status in Ontario is vulnerable or of special concern. It’s in the same subfamily as musk mallow, malvoideae, but breaks away at tribe level. If you have a wetland you can sow this plant and it’ll form a large beautiful colony.


And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation. Tannins are toxic if consumed in excess.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk. For instance, saponins commonly cause stomach upset.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

#ads in References

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The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World’s Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs

Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria

The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies

Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants (Out of Print)

A Modern Herbal (Volume 2, I-Z and Indexes)

Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

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