1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mallow (plant)

MALLOW, botanically Malva, the typical genus of the natural order Malvaceae, embracing about sixteen species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere. The mallows possess the reniform one-celled

Mallow (Malva sylvestris).
1. Flower in section. 3. Fruit with persistent calyx. 3. Fruit with persistent calyx.
2. Stamens showing the union of the filaments into a common tube (monadel-phous) 4. Same seen from the back showing the 3-leaved epi-calyx. 5. Seed.

anthers which specially characterize the Malvaceae (q.v.). The petals also are united by their base to the tube formed by the coalesced filaments of the stamens. The special characters which separate the genus Malva from others most nearly allied to it are the involucre, consisting of a row of three separate bracts attached to the lower part of the true Calyx, and the numerous single-seeded carpels disposed in a circle around a. central axis, from which they become detached when ripe. The flowers are mostly white or pinkish, never yellow, the leaves radiate-veined, and more or less lobed or cut. Three species are natives of Britain. The musk mallow (Malva moschata) is a perennial herb with five-partite, deeply-cut leaves, and large rose-coloured flowers clustered together at the ends of the branched stems, and is found growing along hedges and borders of fields, blossoming in July and August. It owes its name to a slight musky odour diffused by the plant in warm dry weather when it is kept in a confined situation. The round-leaved dwarf mallow (M alva rotundifolia) is a creeping perennial, growing in waste sandy places, with roundish serrate leaves and small pinkish-white flowers 'produced in the axils of the leaves from June to September. It is common throughout Europe and the north of Africa, extending to western and northern Asia. The common mallow (Malva sylvestris), the mauve of the French, is an erect biennial or perennial plant with long-stalked roundish-angular serrate leaves, and conspicuous axillary reddish-purple flowers, blossoming from May to September. Like most plants of the order it abounds in mucilage, and hence forms a favourite domestic remedy for colds and sore throats. The aniline dye called mauve derives its name from its resemblance to the colour of this plant.

The marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), the guimauve of the French, belongs to another genus having an involucre of numerous bracts. It is a native of marshy ground near the sea or in the neighbourhood of saline springs. It is an erect perennial herb, with somewhat woody stems, velvety, ovate, acute, unequally serrate leaves, and delicate pink showy flowers blooming from July to September. The flowers are said to yield a good deal of honey to bees. The marsh mallow is remarkable for containing asparagin, C4H8N2O3, H2O, which, if the root be long kept in a damp place, disappears, butyric acid being developed. The root also contains about 25 % of starch and the same quantity of mucilage, which dillfers from that of gum arabic in containing one molecule less of water and in being precipitated by neutral acetate of lead. It is used in pdte de guimauve lozenges. Althaea rosea is the hollyhock (q.v.).

The mallow of Scripture, Job xxx. 4, has been sometimes identified with Jew's mallow (Corchorus olitorius), a member of the closely allied order Tiliaceae, but more plausibly (the word 1315; implying a saline plant) with Atriplex Halirnus, or sea orache. In Syria the Halimus was still known by the name Mallūh in the time of Ibn Beitar. See Bochart, Hieroz. iii. 16.