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The various species of mallow are widespread plants in the spontaneous state in our meadows, from the mountains to the plains. They are certainly not among the most ornamental essences, but introducing them into our garden can be a good choice. They are in fact very precious for their medicinal virtues and are able to make our green space more alive, attracting a large number of birds and pollinating insects.
The wild mallow, or mallow, (malva sylvestris) is a perennial herbaceous plant, but that develops mostly as a biennial. It belongs to the large family of the Malvaceae (for which also the high and the hibiscus belong).
It is an endemic plant throughout Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It grows in the wild in the meadows, in the pastures and on the side of the roads.
It is characterized by slightly tomentose, dark green leaves with five toothed lobes. It produces stems up to 90 cm tall, erect and also pelosetti to the touch bearing at the top cup-shaped flowers with 5 medium pink petals crossed by darker veins, tending to purple. Production is continuous throughout the summer. The fruits, flat and medium brown in color, contain numerous wedge-shaped seeds.
For ornamental purposes some hybrids have been created, with smaller dimensions and larger and more striking flowers. Among the most known we mention the sylvestris var. Mauritania, with large lively corollas, mostly purple. Another interesting cultivar is the Primley Blue, suitable for borders and natural areas. It blooms in pale pink with veins tending to blue.
MALVA IN BRIEF
Malva sylvestris, fam. Malvaceae
|Type of plant||Short-lived, annual, biennial or perennial herbaceous|
|Height / width at maturity||Up to 1 meter / up to 70 cm|
|Crop / maintenance||Simple / low|
|Water needs||undemanding, avoid stagnation|
|Exposure||Sun / partial shade|
|use||Bordura, natural garden, aromatic corner, vase|
|Ground||Dry and poor in nature, rich in cultivation. Well drained|
|Seed germination||From 2 to 4 weeks, min. 12 ° C|
Mallow over the centuries
The mallow is not only a beautiful plant: since the dawn of time, in fact, it was known for its many healing properties, to the point that the most superstitious put it on the windowsill during the night of San Giovanni to make it even acquire magical properties.
Even its name derives from these proverbial qualities, since "malva" derives from the Latin "mollire", which literally means "able to soften". Not only: because of its many medicinal qualities, in the sixteenth century the mallow was also called "omnimorba", that is, a remedy for all ills. The Greeks used it in many different ways, while Hippocrates recommended it above all for its laxative effect, which is still today among the most exploited. The Pythagoreans were convinced that the mallow was particularly dear to the gods, and that it had the power to calm too intense human passions, destined to become vices; Charlemagne instead
Like the flower to which it owes its name, the classic “mauve” color over the centuries has become synonymous with sweetness and tranquility, sensations also inspired by its calming effect. With the advent of science, in fact, the properties of the flowers most used to cure themselves naturally have been studied and now enjoy a scientific foundation that has increased the success of phytotherapy (the treatment of certain diseases using flowers). Strange as it may seem, the mallow is also excellent cooked, boiled and seasoned to taste, or in soups and soups; particularly common are, however, above all decoctions and herbal teas. For this reason it is still today one of the most sold herbs in herbal medicine.
Healing properties of Mallow
One of the main properties of mallow inherits its use as a natural laxative, suitable for both the elderly and children because it helps the body to restore intestinal regularity without being as aggressive as chemical laxatives, which also have numerous side effects. Obviously, as with all plants, the effect is not immediate, but the benefits come with a constant intake.
Another recognized and exploited property of mallow is to quell the cough; It is now known, in fact, that this plant enjoys remarkable emollient properties that bring relief to the throat and inflamed respiratory tract.
The third property of the mallow is that of being a natural emollient, useful both for the skin and for the mucous membranes: in fact it was used to heal anal and rectal inflammations, pharyngitis and vaginitis, or small irritations of the epidermis such as eczema, acne and pimples . Also hemorrhoids or cystitis, not serious but undoubtedly annoying pathologies, derive a great benefit from the use of preparations deriving from this plant.
The action of the mallow consists in intervening directly on the soft tissues, so that it is able immediately to attenuate precisely the disorders that affect these tissues. Not only: where it does not cure directly, the mallow still manages to soothe suffering, alleviating pain and giving a feeling of calm and peace, an effect similar to those of lime or lemon balm, plants particularly suitable for the preparation of natural sedatives. By stimulating and stimulating cell renewal, mallow is also widely used in cosmetics for the preparation of moisturizing and soothing creams and masks.
The decoction of mallow It is very easy to prepare and in addition to having a very pleasant taste, it is excellent against colds. The ingredients of the decoction are a spoon of flowers and leaves of mallow and a glass of water. Fill a saucepan of water in which you will pour leaves and flowers and put it to boil on the fire. Bring the water to the boiling temperature, let it boil for a few minutes, then turn off and cover with a lid. Let stand for 10/20 minutes, then use a sieve to filter the decoction and pour it into a mug. Drink it hot, even several times a day in case of cough, sore throat and persistent cold. Not only: the decoction is also very useful in case of conjunctivitis, or to decongest the eyes after a stressful day at the computer. In this case, just apply two cotton pads soaked in cold decoction on the closed eyes and let them rest for a few minutes. The operation can be repeated as often as necessary. For intimate problems such as cystitis, candida or simple irritations, much can be used for vaginal cleansing with a mauve decoction, refreshing and soothing. In fact, many products for intimate hygiene make use of the beneficial properties of this plant.
Aesthetic and dermatological problems
Mallow is widely used in the most naturalistic aesthetic, that which uses biological products, that is made using the moisturizing, emollient and nourishing properties of many plants. Mallow has always given extraordinary results in the treatment of acne and pimples in general. An excellent remedy consists in applying directly to the pimple of the heated mallow root, repeating the application several times a day; the boil will immediately appear as dried, the skin less reddened. On the other hand, for couperose, sterile gauze soaked in decoction (in this case cold) can be used on the face for a few minutes, at least twice a day. There is also a particularly beneficial preparation with a regenerating power called "ointment of the holy leaf". To prepare it, three parts of dried mallow and four parts of butter are used; the ingredients should be boiled together for a long time, until the water of the plant has completely evaporated. Then turn off and let cool. The ointment thus obtained will be used as a real cream, particularly suitable for dry and already prone to wrinkles; just clean your face well and apply the ointment both in the morning and in the evening, dabbing lightly with your fingertips to make the skin absorb it.
Also the infusion of mallow - which is obtained by placing a handful of dry leaves in a mug full of boiling water, just as if you were preparing an herbal tea - has a beneficial effect in case of sore throat, heartburn or cystitis. Of the rest of the mallow nothing really is thrown away: all the parts of the plant are suitable for being boiled and used in the most disparate manner. Another type of widespread herbal mallow tea is obtained by boiling a glass of water, a handful of mallow the size of a fist and three tablespoons of sugar. After carefully filtering the infusion obtained and letting it cool, add a whisked egg white and two tablespoons of lemon juice. This preparation is useful to fight any type of infection in the bronchi or intestines: it is necessary to drink it several times a day, without limits, also because there are no dangers inherent in the abuse or contraindications of any kind to the use of mallow. If you still have doubts, go to the herbalist's shop: the competent staff will tell you which mauve-based preparation is right for you.
Mallow and cystitis
We talked about the properties of mallow and we explained how this plant has many qualities including anti-inflammatory, soothing and emollient properties. One of the problems for which mallow is recommended as a natural remedy is cystitis. Cystitis is an inflammation of the urinary tract which can be very painful especially for women. With cystitis the mucous membrane of the bladder becomes inflamed and it is an inflammation which brings pain and which must be cured by armying oneself with patience.
According to many people who mainly use natural remedies to treat minor ailments or slight inflammations, mallow is an excellent plant for treating cystitis. Frequent and constant use of mallow teas or other mallow-based preparations can help reduce the incidence of this inflammation and can help get it through.
Malva sylvestris is the most known and commonly used in herbal medicine. However, there are also other similar species that have nothing to envy, both for their beauty and for their healing virtues.
One of these is certainly the Malva moschata: it is a lively, bushy habit that produces flowering stems up to 80 cm high. The corollas are of a beautiful pale pink with slightly darker veins. There is also a mutation with completely white flowers (alba). They open from June until October, opening and closing with the alternation of day and night. They are composed of 5 petals and the whole can reach a maximum of 5 cm in diameter. The basal leaves are rounded, the others on the contrary are deeply carved and lobed. It is found spontaneously throughout southern Europe and northern Africa. He loves arid and rather poor soils.
Other interesting species are the m. neglecta, the m. verticillata and the m. Mauritian, all usable for healing and medicinal purposes.
History of mallow
The mallow genus includes about 30 species of vivid annuals, biennials and perennials, originating mostly from Europe, Asia and northern Africa. Some of these, however, have spread spontaneously even in the American continent, after being introduced by man into cultivations for herbal purposes.
The mauve name derives from the Latin (mollire) and means "springs", referring to the emollient properties of its extracts. It was already known for its calming virtues and was given to the dead as a wish for tranquility in the afterlife. It was used for the treatment of all irritations in association with other essences such as mullein and violet. Pliny advised eating it every day to preserve health and serenity. These virtues continued to make it popular throughout the Middle Ages, in the West as well as in the East. Its cultivation spread in the gardens of convents and became a very popular remedy for arthritis, constipation, abscesses and inflammation in every part of the body.
At the beginning of the 20th century it began to be used even raw, using its leaves in salads. It can also be cooked and used in omelettes or stuffed pasta stuffing.
Terrain and mauve exposure
In its spontaneous state it tends to grow in poor soils. In cultivation, to give good results, it is good to give it a rich and deep soil. The ideal exposure is sun - half shade.
How to get mallow seedlings?
To obtain mallow seedlings we can contact a retailer specializing in seeds of medicinal essences or buy some seedlings (although it is rather rare to find them). If we know how to recognize the plant we can, when the fruit is well dried and mature, during the previous autumn, collect its seeds and store them in paper bags.
It can be made in boxes or alveolar trays or directly at home.
In boxes you can already start in March / April (also depending on our geographical position). Let's make sure only that it is no longer in anticipation of frosts
- We prepare a substrate mixing earth field and coarse river sand equally.
- We fill the jars and insert in each of them three seeds, forming a triangle. Let's cover them with about half a centimeter of earth and compress well.
- We place everything in a luminous position, but not directly in the sun. We vaporize abundantly and cover with a plastic film where we will have created some holes. Always make sure that the environment remains well moist, but do not create mold. The ideal is to air the containers for at least half an hour a day.
- Germination is very linked to temperatures. Usually two to four weeks are needed.
At home it adapts to almost any type of soil, provided it is well drained and well exposed. After having worked it to make it softer, we distribute the seeds in rows or in rows. We cover with a little soil and we irrigate abundantly. The best time for this operation is April-May. At germination we will have to proceed by eliminating the weakest plants and maintaining 15-20 cm between one and the other, so that the development can then be optimal.
In areas characterized by mild winters, sowing and planting can also be done in autumn, ending the cycle with flowering and fruiting the following year, around May-June.
Planting of seedlings
If we bought the seedlings or sowed them in jars, we will then have to transfer them to their final home.
This operation can be performed from March to May, or from September to October.
We proceed by creating holes about three times the bread of earth. A handful of mature flour manure is placed on the bottom. Insert the map. The ideal distance between one specimen and another is about 35 cm.
For the first two months it will be necessary to irrigate rather frequently (every 7 days) in the absence of precipitation.
When they have reached 30 cm in height, we will have to trim them to help them achieve a more bushy and tidy appearance, emitting a greater number of lateral jets.
Every three weeks it is important to do a hoeing and weeding of the area so as to hinder the growth of weeds and keep the substrate permeable.
When winter comes, the vegetative apparatus will completely wither. We wait for the spring before intervening eliminating all the dry: the plant will appear again from the substratum creating new stems and leaves.
THE MALVA CALENDAR
From March to May / September October
|Flowering||From June to October|
|Collection||From June to October|
|Division||March-April / September-October|