Edible Weeds: Malva sylvestris (common mallow)

Malva is an edible weed that tastes like spinach.  All parts of the plant are edible and it has no poisonous look-a-likes.   Malva is also called cheeseweed because the flower bud looks like a cheese wheel.   Malva is simple to use in spinach recipes from raw salads and smoothies to quiches and sautees.

I see it growing all over the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley in the fall about a month after the rains begin.   In January and February I harvest as much of it as I can.  I have harvested it in March and April, but it is a lot harder to find leaves that are not full of bug eggs.   I tried eating the leaves with bug eggs and don’t like the tangy flavor except with a Chinese Hoison sauce.

I blanch and freeze Malva in 10 ounce packages to make it easy to use in spinach recipes.  I dehydrate it, then sprinkle it in soups, breads and many other foods for added nutrition.  I used up last season’s Malva in December and now have an idea how much I should be storing up for next year.

For salads I choose fresh young leaves up to 2 inches in size.   Later in the season, the leaf texture (in even the smaller leaves) is not tender enough to enjoy in salads, but tastes fine cooked or in smoothies.  This is because the older Malva gets tough, stringy and has a slimy okra texture that I am not in to.   Cooking resolves the texture issue.    My family’s favorite meal is chicken Malva soup, and those are the only ingredients!

By the end of March the flowers start budding and have a tangy flavor I don’t like except in stuffed grape leaves.   The largest Malva leaves are not as big as grape leaves, but they are a tasty substitute for grape leaves and are easy to work with.

I have been eating Malva for years.   Last year was the first time I froze and dried it to enjoy all year.   I am so happy with the results I hope to do this every year.   My goal is to learn how to forage for free organic food and medicine — beginning with my yard!    Ironically, I was looking for edible weeds in my yard because I was frustrated with the garden I have NOT started, yet.    Foraging is so much easier than establishing a garden.

My personal experience with Malva is that it is both a food and a medicine.   I have chronic pain due to a damaged hip.    I have learned that inflammation management is my pain management and have done a lot of research on natural anti-inflammatory foods.   I thought eating Malva made me feel great because it is a fresh organic green.     Last year, I found out that Malva is also an anti-inflammatory!

I eat half to one whole tightly packed cup of fresh Malva each day from January through April.    It feels almost as effective as an 800 ibuprofen.   To say I LOVE Malva doesn’t say it strongly enough.

Malva grows all over the world.  It is commonly called Mallow outside of the U.S.  It is also known as Cheeseweed, Cheeses, Common Mallow, Dwarf Mallow, Round-leaved Mallow, Running Mallow, Round Dock, Umbrella Mall, Malvaceae and Zulu Spinach.

There are warnings related to Malva, such as Malva is toxic to pasture animals, but they seem to be in the same category as chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats.   So please take responsibility for your health and educate yourself before consuming anything.  For more information, visit:

Additional Resources

I have always wanted to learn more about foraging for wild edibles, aka wildcrafting.   The following are wonderful sites I want to explore more deeply.  Check back.  This section will be added to.

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About Hemet Sunshine

I am a homeschooling mom living in Hemet, California. I am interested in building a better community for the ones I love.
This entry was posted in 3) Herbs, Local Free Foods, Remedies. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Edible Weeds: Malva sylvestris (common mallow)

  1. Pingback: Common Mallow, High Mallow, Malva sylvestris…#4 | Phentabz Diet Pills

  2. Pingback: Common Mallow, High Mallow, Malva sylvestris…#5 and Goodnighties Supports 20th Year of National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day May 12, 2012

  3. Pingback: Common Mallow, High Mallow, Malva sylvestris...#5 - International Food Review Site

  4. dollopblog says:

    Thanks for this very interesting information. I liked your recipe with the hoison sauce.

    • Thanks. Unfortunately, after years of Malva without fail, last year I barely had any due to the little rain. I wasn’t interested in watering my yard so I just studied what was growing in my yard.

      Fortunately, a friend has invited me to enjoy her Malva. She has been making lots of smoothies with the Malva since last month.

  5. Pingback: Common Mallow, High Mallow, Malva sylvestris…#6 | Healthy Foods

  6. linux expert says:

    HI Malva sucks up the CO, NO3 from the water and ground. Do not eat.
    Calcium oxalate and Nitrogen.

    http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/PP_Nitrate_Oxalate_Poisoning.pdf

    • Thanks. I really appreciate you taking the time to post a link to this in depth article. I hope everyone reads it before they consider consuming malva.

      I knew that malva was toxic to pasture animals, but didn’t know the details until I read your link. This appears to be along the same lines as chocolate is poison for dogs. My personal experience is that malva is good for me. I have experienced none of the side effects listed in this article. Of those I know that eat it, they have not had problems with it either.

      I will add your link to my resources. Thanks again.

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