Common Mallow

(Malva neglecta)

Other Names:
Buttonweed, Cheeseplant, Cheeseweed, Dwarf Mallow and Roundleaf Mallow


Malvaceae – Mallow family

Growth Type:
A deep rooted herbaceous perennial which can grow to a height of 1 foot. The stems are trailing.

Can grow 8 - 24 inches tall, but generally a spreading plant.

The leaves are rounded, toothed, wavy, and slightly lobed. There are typically 5 - 7 lobes on each leaf, making them resemble small green coffee filters, or upside down umbrellas. The leaves grow alternate, and are mucilaginous (slimy) when crushed.

On older plants, the trailing stems can become quite thick, and long.

Deep often forked taproot

Flower Season:
Summer through Autumn

Flower Appearance:
Flowers are distinct, regular, funnel shaped, with 5 distinct petals, and 3 - 5 partially united sepals. Often surrounded by several bracts. Flowers can be white to pink or lavender tinged. There are numerous stamens united to form a distinctive column around the pistil.

The ovary is positioned superior, and is chambered, and is the reason for the common name cheeses, as it resembles a wheel of cheese.

Miscellaneous characteristics:
This unassuming little plant is a powerhouse when it comes to edible and medicinal value. There are over 85 genera in the Malvaceae family, with over 1500 species. Most have the same medicinal and edible properties. Although often considered a weed, this plant is reportedly consumed as a food. This is especially true of the seeds, which contain 21% protein and 15.2% fat. All plant parts are mucilaginous (slimy) when crushed between your fingers.

Yards, fields, and waste areas, dry areas

Parts Used:
Entire plant including seeds (cheeses)

Wild Food Uses:
The highly nutritious leaves and flowers can be eaten raw, or used as a cooked vegetable, or in soups. They are also dried and added to smoothies and other drinks. As with Okra, Mallow is a mucilaginous plant which can be used to thicken soups and sauces. The cheeses are a wonderful snack that can be eaten raw right from the yard.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:
A wash can be made from the leaves and root of this plant, which is an excellent treatment for sunburn, as well as other minor burns or skin irritations. Leaf, flower, and or root tea is very soothing to the throat and lungs, as well as the digestive tract. It is has been used to soothe irritated mucus membranes. The tea is also used to treat angina, coughs, bronchitis, and stomachaches. Root extracts have been shown to be an effective treatment for tuberculosis. This is one of my favorite demulcent plants. I love to add Malva neglecta to Verbascum thapsus. The resulting mixture is highly effective at toning mucus membranes of the sinuses, throat, and lungs. My favorite recipe is to boil 1/3 cup each of dried Mallow and Mullein in 4 cups of water for about 15 minutes. I then pour the mixture through a strainer to remove the plant material, and then give a final strain through a plastic mesh coffee filter to remove the fine Mullein hairs. A cup of this decoction sweetened with sugar or honey is a wonderful remedy for upper respiratory problems, or as a daily treatment for asthma.

Medicinal Actions:
Anti-inflammatory, Astringent, Demulcent, Emollient, Expectorant, Pectoral, Stomachic

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