Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cheeses, Common Mallow, Dwarf Mallow, Round-leaved Mallow, Running Mallow, Round Dock, Umbrella Mall
Malva neglecta

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Malva (MAL-vuh) (Info)
Species: neglecta (nay-GLEK-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Malva rotundifolia

8 members have or want this plant for trade.


under 6 in. (15 cm)
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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2 positives
1 neutral
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative schmeeges On Jul 11, 2014, schmeeges from Sintaluta
Canada wrote:

This weed is a nightmare!! Who would ever want to buy this? I would gladly let anyone come and take it all if that were possible! I have picked huge amounts of this weed every year for 4 years now. Garbage bags full! Roundup doesn't kill it or any other spray that I've tried. And I am not about to start eating it. We never had this weed until we had a spring flood in 2011 and the excessive water must have brought dormant seeds to life. I have read everything I can find about this weed and have had no success in how to get rid of it. Apparently the seeds can lay dormant for 125 years until the right conditions are met. Amazing! Wonder what conditions are needed to kill it? PLEASE HELP anyone?

Positive RosinaBloom On Dec 19, 2012, RosinaBloom from Waihi
New Zealand (Zone 1) wrote:

According to Wikipedia - even though Malva neglecta is considered to be a weed, the leaves have medicinal qualities and are used in making a tea. The seeds contain 21 percent protein and 15 percent fat - and the flower is pretty.

Negative shelly87 On Sep 20, 2009, shelly87 from Spokane, WA (Zone 5b) wrote:

A horrible plant! It takes over entire flowerbeds in one season. Long tap root...ever propigating. If I could figure out a way to kill it without killing the rest of the plants, I certainly would. I guess the fact that it's edible means that I will never starve, because it will always be there...terrorizing my flowerbeds and lawn.

Neutral htop On Mar 10, 2008, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this plant which occurs as an annual and rarely as a biennial. Common mallow, round-leaved mallow, cheeses (Malva neglecta; synonyms: Malva rotundifolia, Malva vulgaris) is native to North Africa, central and southern Europe and south west Asia. It has become naturalized in most of the United States (excluding Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) and Canada.

Common mallow has a straight-taproot which is short. The hairy stems branch at the base and lay close to the soil surface, nearly erect or spreading with tips turned up. The 2 to 6 cm wide, alternate, circular to kidney-shaped leaves are blunt- to sharp-toothed and inconspicuously 5-9 lobed. The petioles are long. Short hairs are on both the upper and lower leaf surfaces, leaf margins and petioles. There are 2 stipules at bases of the leaves which are lanceolate and between 0.5 and 1 cm long. The seedling cotyledons are 5 to 7 mm long, 3 to 4 mm wide, heart-shaped, have 3 main veins and are hairy on both surfaces.

From May through September, the flowers appear singularly or in clusters of 2 to 4 in the leaf axils. The 5-lobed petals are white or white tinged with pale pink or purple. Common mallow produces flattened lengthwise fruit capsules which are round and cheese-shaped (disc- or button-like). They are composed of 12 to15 small hairy, 1-seeded, 5 to 8 mm in diameter wedge-shaped segments which are rounded on the back.

Common mallow is often misidentified as ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) which has square stems. Ground ivy leaves have more prominent rounded teeth and are opposite. Ground ivy often has a minty odor.

All parts of the plant are edible; however, when grown in nitrogen rich soils, high concentrations of nitrates in its leaves occur.

"Edible Uses:
Leaves and young shoots of common mallow are edible raw or cooked. Having a mild pleasant flavor, they are said to be highly nutritious. They can be added in quantity to salads, and make an excellent lettuce substitute, they can also be cooked as greens. The leaves are mucilaginous, when cooked in soups etc they tend to thicken it in much the same way as okra (Abelmoschatus esculenta). Some people find this mucilaginous texture unpleasant, especially if the leaves are cooked. Immature seeds are edible raw or cooked. A pleasant nutty flavor, they are nice as a nibble but too small in most cases to collect in quantity. A decoction of the roots is used as an egg-white substitute for making meringue. The roots are brought to the boil in water and then simmered until the water becomes quite thick. This liquid can then be whisked in much the same way as egg whites. A tea can be made from the dried leaves.

Medicinal Uses:
All parts of the plant are astringent, laxative, urine-inducing, and have agents that counteract inflammation, that soften and soothe the skin when applied locally, and that induce the removal (coughing up) of mucous secretions from the lungs. The leaves and flowers can be eaten as part of the diet, or a tea can be made from the leaves, flowers or roots. The leaves and flowers are the main part used, their demulcent properties making them valuable as a poultice for bruises, inflammations, insect bites etc, or taken internally in the treatment of respiratory system diseases or inflammation of the digestive or urinary systems. They have similar properties, but are considered to be inferior to the marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), though they are stronger acting than the common mallow (M. sylvestris). They are seldom used internally. The plant is an excellent laxative for young children.

Other Uses:
Cream, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seed heads. The root has been used as a toothbrush." Copyright

Positive Yorkerjenny On Feb 17, 2008, Yorkerjenny from Syracuse, NY wrote:

It's one of the almost forgotten vegetables. malva has many varieties, some of them have edible leaves like malva neglecta. I ate once, I still can't forget its taste. My grandma picked them up from a friend's backyard. It seems like it's almost impossible to find its seeds. I think because it's concidered as weed. Whole year, I searched the internet for edible common mallow (malva neglecta), I couldn't find any website to buy its seeds. There are some in flower section, but I'm not sure if they are edible. If anybody has its seeds, I'd like to buy. thank you.
Meanwhile I give a recipe for it :
1 pound edible common mallow leaves
1/4 pound ground beef
3 tablespoon sunflower oil or canola oil
2 paste tomato or 1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 med onion
2 tablespoon short rice
some salt, water

Put chopped ground beef, chopped onion and oil to a pan. When ground beef turns to brown, add mallow leaves, tomato or tomato paste, salt, water and rice. Try to slow cook with as little water as possible.

Negative willmetge On Jul 22, 2007, willmetge from Spokane, WA (Zone 5b) wrote:

Oh how I hate this plant! It makes up 90% of my weeding and it seems that every year, no matter how diligent the weeding, it multiplies, and multiplies. I can have a bed completely weeded and three days later there are hundreds of new seedlings. My goal this year is to not let a single plant go to seed. They are very sneaky little devils and can grow and flower in both full sun and dense shade. I lift up the branches of shubs and there are dozens tucked away doing there thing completely unnoticed. I also have a suspicion that birds drop new seed around each year. This plants enjoys bone-dry alkaline soils, perfect sandy loam, expensive potting soils, and soggy organic soup. It grows anywhere!

On a positive note, when I was a boy scout, I learned that this is an ideal survival plant. The sectioned seed head is very nutritious and can be eaten raw or cooked. We always harvested them green, but they may be edible when dry. The texture is slightly slimy, but I understand they make an acceptible substitute for okra. However, I would never plant them intentionally.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Wedowee, Alabama
West Covina, California
Aurora, Colorado
Denver, Colorado
Bay City, Michigan
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Canby, Oregon
Tenmile, Oregon
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
San Antonio, Texas
Syracuse, Utah
Kennewick, Washington
Kirkland, Washington
Spokane, Washington (3 reports)

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