Mallow, a common name for plants of the genus malca (from (Jr. , to soften, in allusion to their softening and emollient properties). The genus, as at present restricted, includes about 16 species, none of which are indigenous to this country, though several of them are more or less extensively naturalized; it is the type of the natural order malvaceae, which comprises many kindred genera distinguishable mainly in the structural differences of the fruit, hut all agreeing in having their Btamens united into a tube by their filaments, and in having one-celled anthers; about 7oo species are known, distributed among genera. It is remarkable that none of the order possess any unwholesome qualities, while all abound in mucilage. The wild or high mallow (M.syrestris) is a handsome biennial with an erect rtem and kidney-shaped leaves having five to seven deeply crenate lobes- the flowers are large, of a purple or a rosy color the calyx hairy, the carpels wrinkled It grows on wast.- places and roadsides in Europe and is an introduced and naturalized in the older portions of this country For fomentations and poultices, its properties are not inferior in value to those of the marsh mallow (see Althaea), and decoctions of its leaves have been used in dysentery and urinary troubles.
This is the mauve of the French, who use the dried flowers in preparing a tisane, or diet drink, which is in great repute with them; the name mauve is also applied to a dye resembling the flowers of this plant in tint. By far the most common with us is the familiar weed known as common or dwarf mallow (M. rotundifolia), so abundant by the wayside, in rich shaded dooryards, and cultivated grounds generally. Its stems are prostrate, spreading, and spring from a long, deeply buried root; its leaves are round-heart-shaped, somewhatlobed and crenate on their edges; the flowers small, whitish, with purplish veins. The plant is much prized by children, who in play seek its flat and circular mucilaginous fruits under the name of "cheeses." The musk mallow (M. moscliata) is a low perennial, sometimes cultivated in gardens, from which it has to some extent escaped, and is occasionally found naturalized along Avaysides; it has handsome, deeply cut leaves, diffusing a pleasant, musky fragrance, and large rose-colored or white flowers. The curled mallow (M. crispa) is likewise seen in old gardens, conspicuous for its large, strong, tall stem, and rich, deep green, singularly curled foliage, the beauty of which supplies the defect of its flowers, which are rather inconspicuous.
The hollyhock mallow (M. Alcea), a European perennial species about 3 ft. high, with palmately five-cleft leaves and rosy-purple flowers 2 in. across, is cultivated and has become naturalized in some parts of Pennsylvania. The American species formerly placed in maha are mostly now in the genus mahastrum. - There are many very showy flowers belonging to the order mahacem, such as those of Lavatera, malope, abutilon, and sida, prized in border and greenhouse cultivation.
Wild Mallow (Malva sylvestris).