Sunday, 9 July 2017

Musk mallow (Malva moschata)

Musk mallow (Malva moschata) is a short-lived perennial from the Malvaceae family. It is also known as St. Simeon's herb. It is a native to Europe and Asia, found in pastures, grassy banks, hedgerows and roadsides. It is often grown as an ornamental garden plant and the flowers have a musky fragrance.

Image of the flowering plant musk mallow (Malva moschata)
Musk mallow (M. moschata)

Growing methods

Musk mallow is easy to grow from seed and readily self-seeds. The seed itself can remain viable in the ground for years. Sow directly in the ground in their final position in the spring or the autumn by simply pressing the seed into the soil. Alternatively scatter the seeds and rake them in. Plants prefer a reasonably dry fertile soil and a sunny position.

To grow indoors; sow seeds in seed compost in pots or trays. If growing in trays leave 2cm between the seeds. Lightly cover with compost and water. Seeds should germinate from between 1-3 weeks. Plant out to their final position when large enough. Plants may look delicate but they are hardy.

Image of the immature flower heads of musk mallow (Malva moschata)
Musk mallow leaves and immature flower heads

Musk mallow grows to a height of 70cm and has a bushy habit flowering from June to August. Flowers are pink but may be white and the leaf shape may vary being either more or less deeply cut. It won't require pruning but may need staking particularly in a formal garden. Musk mallow looks good in a cottage garden habitat or wild flower border.

It doesn't generally suffer from pests or diseases except maybe the occasional rust or leaf spot.

Other uses

Musk mallow can be used to make a dye. The leaves, roots and flowers have herbal medicinal properties. The stems can be used to make fibre for paper making, textiles and cordage.

Raw edible parts

The leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible raw. The leaves and flowers are mild in flavour and are good in salads. A tea can be made from the leaves flowers or roots.

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