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Malva moschata, Musk Mallow


A very ornamental plant. The crushed leaves have a musk-like smell. Plants are generally quite short-lived though they can self-sow freely when in a suitable position and usually more than maintain themselves.

If the plant is pruned back to the main branches as it comes into flower, then it will produce a fresh flush of leaves in late summer for salad use. A good plant for the summer meadow.

Cream, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seed heads. A fibre obtained from the stems is used for cordage, textiles and paper making.

A very easily grown plant, succeeding in ordinary garden soil, though it prefers a reasonably well-drained and moderately fertile soil in a sunny position.

Hardy to about -25°c.

Best sown in early spring in a cold frame. The seed germinates quickly and easily. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in their permanent positions in the early summer.

If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown outdoors in situ in the middle to late spring.

When grown on nitrogen rich soils (and particularly when these are used inorganically), the plant tends to concentrate high levels of nitrates in its leaves. The leaves are perfectly wholesome at all other times.

Edible uses

Leaves - raw or cooked. A mild pleasant flavour. The leaves are mucilaginous and fairly bland, we use them in bulk in summer salads. They make a very good perennial substitute for lettuce in a salad, producing fresh leaves from spring until the middle of summer, or until the autumn from spring germinating plants.

Flowers - raw. A very decorative addition to the salad bowl, they have a very mild flavour.

Seed - raw. Best used before it is fully mature, the seed has a pleasant nutty taste but it is rather small and fiddly to harvest.


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