Composed of herbs or shrubs with alternate, stipulate, irregular leaves, perfect, regular flowers and having mucilaginous juices.
Common Mallow. Malva rotundifolia.
Common Mallow; Cheeses (Malva Rotundifolia) (European) is a very common weed about dooryards, especially in the country, and along the edges of cultivated fields. The long stalks spring from biennial roots and creep over the ground, the branches being 6 to 24 inches in length. The dark green, round leaves are very handsome; they have a shallow-lobed and very finely toothed edge and are deeply, palmately-ribbed. The leaves, their stems and the plant stems are rather rough.
The small, wide-spread, bell-shaped flowers are clustered close to the stalk on short stems from the axils of the leaves. The five petals have notched tips, are white, delicately tinted with pink or pale magenta, and have veinings of a deeper shade. The flowers are attractive and, were they not so abundant about our very doors, would more often be appreciated. The seed is hard, flat and rounded, composed of a dozen or more carpels; it is eaten by children with great relish, these being the "cheeses" that give the species one of its common names.
Like so many others of our flowers, this species came to our shores from across the Atlantic. As usual with foreign plants introduced into this country, it thrives here better, and multiplies even faster, than in its native home. It is the same with all classes of life. The English Sparrow, to our sorrow, is so strongly entrenched here that it can never be driven out. The Ring-necked Pheasant, introduced from China, is very abundant in the Northwest and, even in the East, thrives better than the native Grouse.
A. High Mallow. Malva sylvestris.
B. Musk Mallow. Malva moschata.
High Mallow (Malva Sylvestris) (European) is a tall biennial with a coarse branching stem, often attaining a height of three feet, or even more on waste land; usually, as we see it along roadsides, it is only from one to two feet in height. Both the stems and the leaves have a thick covering of hair; the latter are all borne on long stems, alternating along the plant stalk, and are divided into five or seven lobes with a serrate outline. The flowers grow in clusters of perhaps a half dozen from the axils of the leaves; they have five, heart-shaped petals of a purplish color, with two or three conspicuous veins of a darker shade of the same color. This species is often erroneously called Marsh Mallow, because of the similarity of the names. The latter plant, though, is quite different from the present species.
The Mallows get their generic name of Malva, in allusion to the soothing effect of the mucilaginous juices of the root and stem. This is used for the making of a number of soothing compounds.