Malva (Mallow) Interesting Facts And Symbolism

Malva is a genus within the mallow plant family, consisting of flowering plants which are annuals, biennials, or perennials. 

The plants within this genus come from different parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, all within different climates, allowing for planting choices in any garden, no matter where you might live. 

Interested in learning more? Here’s everything you should know.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About Malva?

Plants within the malva genus feature alternate leaves, contrasting well against flowers which may be anywhere from 0.5cm to 5cm wide, featuring five petals, in shades of either purple, white, or pink.

These beautiful plants are perfect for adding a romantic, almost whimsical element into your garden, and happen to be easy to care for. 

One of the most well-known and widely grown ornamentals is Malva sylvestris, also known as the French hollyhock or common mallow.

This plant has been used as part of traditional medicine applications for many years, and remains one of the earliest plants to be recorded as a remedy.

Malva sylvestris is capable of treating numerous complaints (but you should always ask your doctor, and then a qualified herbalist, in that order!), such as coughing, headaches, asthma, toothaches, and insomnia.

The foliage, blooms, and roots are edible, and have been used in cooking for years, especially in times when other crops were scarce, as it can grow in very poor soil without any problems.

In some places, malva plants are classed as invasive, particularly in America, so check with your local authority before you plant it, just in case!

Behind The Name: What Does Malva Mean?

The name malva comes from the Greek malakos, which translates as mellow, or soft. Specifically, it refers to the plant’s usefulness in helping to heal ailments.

It’s worth mentioning that the French word mauve, originates with this plant, describing the typical color of the mallow flower, being a lavender-pink.

It’s worth knowing that the malva genus is not the only one to be referred to as a mallow.

Others within the Malvaceae family come under that name too, which can make things confusing. If in doubt, always find the scientific name, which will tell you exactly what plant you’re looking at.

What Do Malva Flowers Symbolize?

Malva flowers signify love and affection. To some, the flowers are symbols of protection, and also help to guard against disease and bad luck.

To introduce a mallow flower into your home was to install a guardian of sorts into your house, to help protect the household.

For those who have lost someone close to them, these flowers often bring comfort and hope.

When planted outside, they symbolize fertility and abundance.

They’re also said to bring good fortune to new homes, and to mark special occasions.

As these plants thrive in poor soil, they are typically regarded as a symbol of resilience and perseverance, and the ability to thrive in difficult conditions or situations.

On the flip side, mallow flowers can symbolize listening to your emotions and tuning out your conscience, or letting love be an all-consuming passion in your life, so this flower may come as a warning to stay grounded.

The flower meanings can also depend on the color of the bloom. White can signify grace and healing, for example, while mauve may stand for luxury, wisdom, and growth.

To the Ancient Greeks, this plant was considered a valuable herb which could cure all ailments.

Final Thoughts

Malvas are easy to grow, and make a wonderful addition to any bed or border in your garden. They do well in almost every type of soil, but prefer a sunny spot.

The symbolism behind these flowers can make you view them in an entirely new light, only adding to their beauty. 

It also helps that some of the plants within the malva genus are edible, which adds plenty of color and interest into any kitchen garden or vegetable patch.

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