There are many types of Mallow flowers that you may commonly see growing without realizing that they belong to the Malva family. Unique features and beneficial medicinal properties influence several mallow flower meanings – love, health, and protection. Keep reading to learn everything about the Mallow plant.
About the Mallow Flower
The Mallow plant belongs to the Malvaceae family, falling into the genera of the Malva. Mauve, a French word, describes the flower’s specific lavender-pink color.
You can find a species of Malva growing native to every temperate region on the continents of Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Unfortunately, many places throughout the globe consider mallows to be a weed.
Some of the most popular malvas species of the mallow plant family grow native in Japan, continental Europe, and Russia.
History and Origin
The Malva plant has been a prominent food source everywhere it’s grown native, making it an informally cultivated plant dating back centuries.
The Mallow name dates back from Old English to Ancient Greek times, demonstrating how long this flower has been used symbolically and practically.
Mallow dates back to the pre-12th century, with the name coming from the Old English Malware or mealwe. Meal comes from Malva – a Latin word that stems from malakhe. In ancient Greek, this word means soft.
Although you may see many species of the Malva flower growing, you might not call them by the name mallow; Many people focus on the plants’ common names due to there being so many.
Other nicknames include hollyhock, hibiscus, common mallow flower, cheeseweed, musk mallows, or Malva neglecta.
Species from the Mallow family are easy to identify by sight. They have 2 to 6 cm wide, deep green alternate palmate leaves with large lobes that create a star or hand-shaped look. Short hairs grow on the margins and the kidney-shaped petioles, plus the upper or lower surfaces.
The 1 to 1.5 cm flowers have distinct stamens inside a low hanging funnel surrounded by five separate petals, singly or clustered in leaves. Despite the beautiful look, most varieties do not have a noticeable fragrance.
They produce a cheese-shaped fruit from the flowers, grown atop a flexible, central point stem. Low-growing mallow weeds have a prostrate growth habit.
Mallow Flower Care
Seeds should be sown in early spring, planting continuously through early summer when grown as annuals. Cover sown seeds with soil, exposure to many hours of sunlight, and a good water supply.
Mallow flowers require well-draining, rich soil that stays poor and slightly dry. They do best in neutral to acidic pH soil in a planting site with full to partial sun exposure. Space your plants 30 to 90 centimeters apart.
Pinch the tips once the plants are 12 inches tall to keep the plant compact, and use stakes to support the stalks against strong winds.
Uses Throughout History
The Mallow plant has been a source of food since Ancient Mediterranean times. Many cultures still use the edible flowers and leaves for salads and pickles.
Marshmallows and common cheeseweed are popular mallow food globally. Mallow leaves are the most edible, with young Malva leaves being eaten raw while older leaves require softening up by cooking, similar to collards.
The seeds – shaped like cheese wheels – from many species are edible. And the flowers of many types are used for garnish or to make mallow teas.
Mallow has been a popular source of herbal medication throughout history. Medicinal uses of these flowers include treating pains and aches. It can also treat:
- Throat infection
- Mucous membrane inflammation of the stomach, intestine, and mouth
- Kidney stone
- Kidney inflammation
- Insect bites, pimples, swellings, boils, acne, eczemas, and wounds
It’s also been incorporated as a cosmetic ingredient for shampoos and conditioners to make your hair soft and smooth.
Mallow Flower Symbolism
There are a few mallow meanings throughout the centuries of this flower’s cultivation.
In the Victorian flower language, Mallows had associations with love, with a myth that consuming the flower would work as an aphrodisiac, inflaming a person’s passions if smelled.
It also represents being swept away by the romance or passion you feel for someone or consumed by the moment’s emotions.
Mallow can protect your body from bacterial infections and other health conditions by boosting the immune system, making them a popular symbol of protection.
Mallow flowers are symbolic of health due to having multiple ingredients beneficial to your health. And you can use many types of mallow for herbal remedies to treat numerous issues.
Many ancient documents show Mallow flowers being planted on the deceased’s grave since it was thought that the flowers served as food for the dead.
And Horace, a Roman poet, considered mallows, olives, and endives the three crucial components of a healthy diet.
In ancient Greece, the mallow flower was used as a cure-all herb, as described by many writers from the time.
In the Bible, there are two mentions of the Mallow flower, both in Jobs. However, the specific reference is to the plant’s leaves – not the flowers – as a source of survival food found growing in harsh environments like the desert.
Job 30:4 tells how eating mallows became a tribulation for Job as he experienced multiple challenges to test the strength of his faith in God. Nevertheless, by eating wild greenery, Job proved his devoutness and sought God’s forgiveness, regardless of the situation’s difficulty.
The second mention is about the sap of the Mallow, which is bland and represents the importance of faith and humility.
Mallow Flower Color Meaning
Mallows come in multiple soft, romantic colors, each with individual meanings. Understanding the importance of Mallow flowers is crucial to make sure you’re sending the right messages when used for a bouquet or gift. Check out these mallow flower color meanings.
The color white is symbolic of innocence, reverence, and purity. White mallow – like Malva moschata – means beauty, purity, and female energy. It can also symbolize an unspoken message of pure admiration and boundless affection, mourning, hope, cleanliness, and hope.
Pink flowers are gentle and soft, conveying feelings of long-lasting love for someone special. But this love doesn’t have to be romantic, making them suitable to express love to family or friends. Send “I’m always here for you” with pink mallows.
Pink mallow can also mean fun, platonic love, youth, gentleness, femininity, and playfulness. A few popular pink varieties include Malva moschata and Malva sylvestris.
Red mallows symbolize passion, respect, love, intense attraction, and admiration.
Like musk mallow, Mallows in a cheerful yellow represents optimism and friendship. You can use this vibrant color for anyone, conveying an unspoken wish for joy and happiness.
Purple is the color of wealth and royalty, largely because the color used to be a rare occurrence in the olden days. It denotes great privilege, greatness, and knowledge. Use this flower color to show someone how unique or special they are and how much you admire their excellence.
Light Blue mallow flowers represent elegance, gracefulness, calmness, healing, and understated feelings.
Mallow flowers in lavender are symbolic of support, devotion, new opportunities, serenity, wealth, silence, intelligence, and new opportunities.
Mauve is Mallows’ most popular – and original – flower color and is a color named after the mallow flower. This shade of pink lavender symbolizes growth, maturity, peace, strength, luxury, and beauty.
Mallow Flower FAQ
A complete understanding of a flower makes it the best way to know how and when to use and grow each species. Continue your education of all things Mallow with these frequently asked questions.
When Should You Give Someone a Mallow Flower?
The versatility and beauty of Mallow flowers mean that you can gift these delicate blooms for any occasion. For example, give red mallow as a new gift to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Or provide a bouquet on Mother’s Day. At the same time, a white bouquet can symbolize respect for a friend or coworker.
Are Mallow Flowers Poisonous?
Mallow flowers are medicinal and non-toxic.
Are Mallow Flowers Annuals or Perrenials?
Mallows are perennial plants commonly grown in tropical, temperate, and subtropical climates in zones 3 through 10.
What Do Mallow Flowers Smell Like?
Most Mallow species do not have an aroma. However, other species like Musk Mallow produce a strong musk.
Mallows are a popular and diverse plant species representing love, health, and protection. With many medicinal purposes and low maintenance needs, Malva can be a fantastic romantic floral for growing in gardens or indoors in containers.