Login Logout
Jump to: navigation, search

Malva sylvestris

Template:Use dmy dates Template:Speciesbox

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,<ref name="FNWE">Template:Cite webTemplate:Dead link</ref> it acquired the common names of cheeses, high mallow and tall mallow (mauve des bois by the French)<ref name="GRIN">Template:Cite web Template:Dead link</ref> as it migrated from its native home in Western Europe, North Africa and Asia through the English-speaking world.<ref name="FP">Template:Cite journal</ref>

M. sylvestris is a vigorous plant with showy flowers of bright mauve-purple, with dark veins, standing Template:Convert high and growing freely in meadows, hedgerows and in fallow fields.<ref name="Grieve">Template:Cite web</ref>

Common names

It is one of several species of different genera sometimes referred to as Creeping Charlie, a term more commonly applied to Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy).<ref name="Plantbio">Template:Cite mailing list</ref>


Malva sylvestris is a spreading<ref name="FNWE"/> herb,<ref name="pn">Template:Cite web</ref> which is an annual in North Africa,<ref name="mp">Template:Cite web</ref> biennial<ref name="FP"/><ref name="Britton">Template:Cite book</ref> in the Mediterranean<ref name="mp"/> and a perennial elsewhere.<ref name="mp"/><ref name="pn"/> It can be straight or decumbent,<ref name="FNWE"/><ref name="pn"/> branched, and covered with fine soft hairs or none at all,<ref name="Britton"/> M. sylvestris is pleasing in appearance when it first starts to flower, but as the summer advances, "the leaves lose their deep green color and the stems assume a ragged appearance".<ref name="Grieve"/>


The leaves are borne upon the stem, are roundish, with numerous lobes, each Template:Convert long, Template:Convert and Template:Convert in diameter.<ref name="pn"/> The leaves have hairs radiating from a common center, with prominent veins on the underside.<ref name="Grieve"/>



Described as reddish-purple,<ref name="Britton"/> bright pinkish-purple with dark stripes<ref name="FNWE"/> and bright mauve-purple,<ref name="Grieve"/> the flowers of Malva sylvestris appear in axillary clusters<ref name="pn"/> of 2 to 4<ref name="FP"/> and form irregularly and elongated along the main stem with the flowers at the base opening first.<ref name="pn"/>

M. sylvestris has an epicalyx (or false calyx) with oblong segments, two-thirds as long as calyx<ref name="pn"/> or 2–3 millimeters long and 1.5 millimeters wide.<ref name="FP"/> Its calyx is free to the middle, 3–6 millimeters long,<ref name="FP"/> with broadly triangular lobes<ref name="FP"/> or ovate mostly 5–7 millimeters long.<ref name="pn"/> The flowers are 2–4 times as long as the calyx;<ref name="Britton"/>


Nutlets strongly reticulate (10–12 mericarps, usually without hair, with sharp angle between dorsal and lateral surfaces, 5–6 mm in diameter.<ref name="FNWE"/><ref name="FP"/>


Also called 'cheeses,'<ref name="Grieve"/> seeds are brown to brownish green when ripe, about 2.5 millimeters long and wide<ref name="FP"/><ref name="pn"/> 5 to 7 millimeters in diameter<ref name="pn"/> and are shaped like a cheese wheel.


Malva sylvestris spreads itself on waste and rough ground, by roads and railways throughout lowland England, Wales and Channel Islands, Siberia and scattered elsewhere.<ref name="FNWE"/><ref name="Britton"/> It has been introduced to and has become naturalised in eastern Australia,<ref name="pn"/> in the United States, Canada, and Mexico as an invasive species.<ref name="Britton"/>

In the wild

Macaronesia: Azores, Madeira Islands
Northern Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco
Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia
Western Asia: Afghanistan, Cyprus, Sinai, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey
Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ciscaucasia, Dagestan, Georgia
Soviet Middle Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Mongolia: Mongolia
China: Xinjiang
Indian Subcontinent: Bhutan, India, Pakistan
Northern Europe: Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom
Middle Europe: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland
East Europe: Belarus, Central Russia, Central Black Earth, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Northern Russia, North Caucasus, Northwestern Russia, Volga, Urals, Volga-Vyatka, Ukraine
Southeastern Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Sardinia, Serbia, Sicily, Slovenia, Romania
Southwestern Europe: Balearic Islands, Corsica, France, Portugal, Spain

Source: USDA ARS GRIN<ref name="GRIN"/>


M. sylvestris in a 19th-century illustration

Template:Quote box

In 1931, Maud Grieve wrote that the "use of this species of Mallow has been much superseded by Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis), which possesses its valuable properties in a superior degree, but it is still a favourite remedy with country people where Marsh Mallow is not obtainable."<ref name="Grieve"/> The flowers were spread on doorways and woven into garlands or chaplets for celebrating May Day.<ref name="Grieve"/>

The young leaves when boiled are a vegetable eaten in several parts of Europe in the 19th century.<ref name="Wakley">Template:Cite book</ref>

In traditional medicine, M. sylvestris has been used in herbalism. Mucilage is present in many of the Malvaceae family including M. sylvestris,<ref name="Balfour1">Template:Cite book</ref><ref name="Balfour2">Template:Cite book</ref> especially the fruit.<ref name="dey">Template:Cite book</ref> The seeds are used internally in a decoction or herbal tea as a demulcent,<ref name="Wakley"/> and the leaves may be used in poultices as an emollient for external applications.<ref name="dey"/>

The species has long been used as a natural yellow dye,<ref name="Bailey">Template:Cite book</ref> perhaps more recently, cream color, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seeds.<ref name="pfaf">Template:Cite web</ref> A tincture of the flowers can make a very sensitive test for alkalis.<ref name="Grieve"/>


Plants previously often described as Malva sylvestris var. malaca are now considered a Cultivar Group Malva sylvestris Mauritiana Group.<ref name=mp/>


The cultivar 'Zebrina', selected for its striped petals

It is often grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive flowers, produced for a long period through the summer. Numerous cultivars have been selected and named.

Cultivars of Malva sylvestris include: 'Alba', 'Annita', 'Aurora', 'Bardsey Blue', 'Blue Fountain', 'Brave Heart', 'Cottenham Blue', 'Gibbortello', 'Harry Hay', 'Highnam', 'Inky Stripe', 'Knockout', 'Magic Hollyhock', 'Mest', 'Mystic Merlin', 'Perry's Blue', 'Purple Satin', 'Richard Perry', 'Tournai', 'Windsor Castle', 'Zebrina' (soft lavender-purple striped with deep maroon veins) <ref>Heritage Perennials: Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina'</ref> and 'Zebrina Zebra Magis'.

Cultivar groups

The cultivar 'Maria's Blue Eyes'


'Bibor Felho'
  • Malva sylvestris L. Eriocarpa group: Hairy seeds and hairy stems found between Italy and the Himalayas, Central Asia and China.
  • Malva sylvestris L. Canescens group: Every part except for the flower is covered with dense white woolly hair, growing in the Montpellier region of France, and on the Balearic Isles. Some 19th-century botanical works called this group Malva sylvestris L. var. canescens.
  • Malva sylvestris L. Sterile Blue group: Vegetatively propagated pale violet-blue flowered cultivars:
Marina 'Dema'
'Primley Blue'
'Maria's Blue Eyes' (dark violet-blue flowered)


Malva vein clearing potyvirus which is transmitted by mechanical inoculation in a non-persistent manner via insects, such as Aphis umbrella (syn. Aphis malvae Koch) and Myzus persicae (all are Aphididae). The virus can be found in Tasmania, Brazil, the former Czechoslovakia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Portugal, California, Russia and the former Yugoslavia.<ref name="ncbi">Template:Cite web</ref><ref name="virus">Template:Cite web</ref>


M. sylvestriscontains malvin and malonylmalvin.<ref>Malonated anthocyanins in malvaceae: Malonylmalvin from Malva sylvestris. Kosaku Takeda, Shigeki Enoki, Jeffrey B. Harborne and John Eagles, Phytochemistry, 1989, Volume 28, Issue 2, Pages 499–500, Template:Doi</ref> It also contains the naphtoquinone malvone A, which is also a phytoalaxin.<ref>Malvone A, a phytoalexin found in Malva sylvestris (family Malvaceae).Olga Veshkurova, Zamira Golubenko, Egor Pshenichnov, Irina Arzanova, Vyacheslav Uzbekov, Elvira Sultanova, Shavkat Salikhov, Howard J. Williams, Joseph H. Reibenspies, Lorraine S. Puckhaber and Robert D. Stipanovic, Phytochemistry, November 2006, Volume 67, Issue 21, Pages 2376–2379, Template:Doi</ref>




External links