Chinese Mallow
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Chinese Mallow
ative Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Chinese Mallow, Cluster mallow, Curled mallow • Lahaul: Mikanchi
Botanical name: Malva verticillata    Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)
Synonyms: Malva crispa, Althaea crispa, Malva meluca, Malva mohileviensis

Chinese Mallow is an annual or biennial that grow up to 1.7 m. Stem is green to purplish hairy, or hairless. Leaves are usually round in outline, 3-23 cm long, 4-25 cm broad, heart-shaped or flat at base, both surfaces hairy, usually 5 lobed. Stipules are lanceolate, 5 mm long, about 4 mm borad. Leaf-stalks are 4-24 cm long, densely velvety above. Flowers are borne in leaf axils, 2 to many, in loose or compact cluster. Flower-stalks are sometimes not visible, sparsely hairy 3-5 mm long. False sepals are linear or linear-lanceshaped 3-6 mm long, 1-1.5 mm broad, glabrescent, margin ciliate. Sepal cup is free to halfway down - sepals 5-6 mm long, 3-4 mm broad, very sparsely hairy. Petals are 7-9 mm long, purplish, hairless, clawed, slightly notched. Stamen column is 4.5 mm long. Fruit is enclosed in the sepal cup, 5-7 mm across. Mericarps are 10-12, glabrous, rugose on the margins, centrally grooved or smooth on the dorsal side, radially rugose, about 2 mm across in all directions. The plant was an important leaf vegetable in pre-Han Dynasty China and widely cultivated. Chinese mallow is found in the Himalayas, from Pakistan to Bhutan, at altitudes of 2100-3300 m. Flowering: June-September.
Medicinal uses: The seeds are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are considered to have a sweet and astringent taste plus a heating potency. They are used in the treatment of renal disorders, the retention of fluids, frequent thirst and diarrhoea. The root is used to cause vomiting in the treatment of whooping cough. The leaves and stems are said to be digestive. They are given to women in the advanced stages of pregnancy.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
Photographed in Baramulla, Kashmir.
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