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(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)

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(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)


All the Mallows (Malvaceoe) to the number of a thousand, agree
in containing mucilage freely, and in possessing no unwholesome

Their family name Mallow is derived from the Greek malassein,
to soften, as alluding to the demulcent qualities of these
mucilaginous plants. The Common Mallow is a well-known roadside
plant, with large downy leaves, and streaked trumpet-shaped
purple flowers, which later on furnish round button-like
seeds, known to the rustics as pickcheeses in Norfolk and
elsewhere, whilst beloved by schoolboys, because of their nutty
flavour, and called by them Bread and Cheese.

Clare tells playfully of the fairies, borne by mice at a gallop:--

In chariots lolling at their ease,
Made of whate'er their fancies please,
With wheels at hand of Mallow seeds,
Which childish sport had strung as beads.

And recalls the time when he sat as a boy:--

Picking from Mallows, sport to please,
The crumpled seed we called a cheese.

Both this plant and its twin sister, the Marsh Mallow (Althoea
hibiscus, from altho, to cure), possess medicinal virtues, which
entitle them to take rank as curative Herbal Simples. The Sussex
peasant knows the Common Mallow as Maller, so that aller and
maller means with him Alehoof (Ground Ivy) and Mallow. Pliny
said: Whosoever shall take a spoonful of the [323] Mallows shall
that day be free from all diseases that may come to him.

This plant is often named Round Dock, and was formerly called
Hock Herb: our Hollyhock being of the Mallow tribe, and first
brought to us from China. Pythagoras held Malvoe folium
sanctissimum; and we read of Epimenides in Plato, at his
Mallows and Asphodels. The Romans esteemed the plant in deliciis
among their dainties, and placed it of old as the first dish at
their tables. The laxative properties of the Mallow, both as regards
its emollient leaves, and its radix altheoe efficacior, were told of
by Cicero and Horace.

The Marsh Mallow grows wild abundantly in many parts of England,
especially in marshes near the sea coast. It gets its generic
name althoea, from the Greek althos, a remedy, because
exercising so many curative virtues. Its old appellations were
Vismalva, Bismalva, Malvaviscus, being twice as medicinally
efficacious as the ordinary Mallow (Sylvestris).

Virgil in one of his eclogues teaches how to coax goats with the
Marsh Mallow:--

Haedorumque gregem viridi compellere hibisco.

The root is sweet and very mucilaginous when chewed, containing
more than half its weight of saccharine viscous mucilage. It is,
therefore, emollient, demulcent, pain-soothing, and lubricating;
serving to subdue heat and irritation, whilst, if applied externally,
diminishing the painful soreness of inflamed parts. It is, for these
reasons, much employed in domestic poultices, and in decoction as
a medicine for pulmonary catarrhs, hoarseness, and irritative
diarrhoea or dysentery. Also the decoction acts well as a bland
soothing collyrium for [324] bathing inflamed eyes. Gerard says:
The leaves be with good effect mixed with fomentations and
poultices against pains of the sides, of the stone, and of the bladder;
also in a bath they serve to take away any manner of pain.

The mucilaginous matter with which the Marsh Mallow abounds is
the medicinal part of the plant; the roots of the Common Mallow
being useless to yield it for such purposes, whilst those of the Marsh
Mallow are of singular efficacy. A decoction of Marsh Mallow is
made by adding five pints of water to a quarter-of-a-pound of the
dried root, then boiling down to three pints, and straining through
calico. Also Marsh Mallow ointment is a popular remedy, especially
for mollifying heat, and hence it was thought invaluable by those
who had to undergo the ordeal of holding red hot iron in their hands,
to rapidly test their moral integrity. The sap of the Marsh Mallow
was combined together with seeds of Fleabane, and the white of an
hen's egg, to make a paste which was so adhesive that the hands
when coated with it were safe from harm through holding for a few
moments the glowing iron.

French druggists prepare a famous medicinal sweet-meat, known as
Pate de gimauve from the root of the Marsh Mallow. In Palestine,
the plant is employed by the poor to eke out their food; thus we read
in the book of Job (chap. xxx. ver. 4), Who cut up Mallows by the
bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.

In France, the young tops and tender leaves of the Marsh Mallow
are added to spring salads, as stimulating the kidneys healthily, for
which purpose is likewise prepared a syrup of Marsh Mallows
(Syrupus Althoeus) from the roots with cold water, to which the
[325] sugar is afterwards added. The leaves, flowers, and roots, are
employed for making ptisans. In Devonshire, this plant is termed by
the farmers, Meshmellish, also Drunkards, because growing
close by the water; and in the West of England, Bulls-eyes; whilst
being known in Somerset as Bull Flowers (pool flowers). The root
of the Marsh Mallow contains starch, mucilage, pectin, oil, sugar,
asparagin, phosphate of lime, glutinous matter and cellulose. An
infusion made with cold water takes up the mucilage, sugar, and
asparagin, then the hot water dissolves the starch.

The flowers were used formerly on May-day by country people for
strewing before their doors, and weaving into garlands.

The Geranium is said to have been originally a Mallow. Mahomet
having washed his shirt while on a journey, hung it on a Mallow to
dry, and the plant became therefore promoted to be a Geranium.

Most probably, the modern French Pate de gimauve contains
actually nothing of the plant or its constituents; but the root is
given in France to infants, on which they may try their teeth
during dentition, much as Orris root is used elsewhere.

The laxative quality of the common Mallow was mentioned by

Exoneraturas ventrem mihi villica malvas
Attulit, et varias quas habet hortus opes.

The Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) is another common variety
of this plant, which emits from its leaves a faint musky odour,
especially in warm weather, or when they are drawn lightly through
the hand. Its virtues are similar in kind, but less powerful in
degree, to those of the Marsh Mallow.

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Previous: Liquorice English (_leguminous_)

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