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Malva alcea - L.                
                 
Common Name Vervain mallow, Hollyhock Mallow
Family Malvaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards Although we have seen no reports of toxicity for this species, when grown on nitrogen rich soils (and particularly when these are cultivated inorganically), the leaves of some species tend to concentrate high levels of nitrates in their leaves[76]. The leaves are perfectly wholesome at all other times.
Habitats Gardens, vineyards and waste places[74].
Range Europe. An occasional casual in Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       
Bloom Color: Pink. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Malva alcea is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.8 m (2ft 7in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

USDA hardiness zone : 4-8


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Malva alcea Vervain mallow, Hollyhock Mallow


(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Malva alcea Vervain mallow, Hollyhock Mallow
(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Oil;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Oil;  Oil.

Leaves - raw or cooked[74]. A mild pleasant flavour[K]. The leaves are mucilaginous and fairly bland, this is a very good perennial substitute for lettuce in a salad, producing fresh leaves from spring until the middle of summer, or until the autumn from self-sown plants[K]. Flowers - raw[K]. A very decorative addition to the salad bowl, they have a mild flavour and a texture similar to the leaves[K]. Seed - raw[74]. Best used before it is fully mature, the seed has a pleasant nutty taste but it is rather small and fiddly to harvest[K].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Demulcent;  Mouthwash.

The leaves are demulcent. They are also used as a mouthwash for inflammatory and catarrhal conditions[74].
Other Uses
Dye;  Fibre;  Oil;  Oil.

A fibre obtained from the stem is used for making cordage[74]. Cream, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seed heads[168]. The seed yields 15% oil[74]. The uses of this oil have not been given though it is almost certainly edible[K].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Massing. A very easily grown plant, succeeding in ordinary garden soil[1], though it prefers a reasonably well-drained and moderately fertile soil in a sunny position[200]. A very ornamental and polymorphic plant[1, 50]. It tends to be quite short-lived in cultivation but usually self-sows when well-sited[233, K]. It is closely related to M. excisa[74]. If the plant is cut back to the ground as it comes into flower, then it will produce a fresh flush of leaves for salads[K]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233] and are seldom bothered by slugs[K]. Plants are prone to infestation by rust fungus[200]. Special Features: Not North American native, Naturalizing, Extended bloom season in Zones 9A and above.
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - best sown in early spring in a cold frame. The seed germinates quickly and easily. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in their permanent positions in the early summer[K]. If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown outdoors in situ in the middle to late spring. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
74200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[74]Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR.
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.

Readers comment                                         
 
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Subject : Malva alcea  
             

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