Small Mallow
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Small Mallow
B Naturalized Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Small Mallow
Botanical name: Malva pusilla    Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)
Synonyms: Malva rotundifolia L., Malva lignescens

Small Mallow is an annual or biennial herb, usually creeping, many branched, 20-50 cm tall, scabrous. It is very often confused with Common Mallow. Leaf-stalks are 3-12 cm, leaves kidney-shaped to round, 5-7-lobed, toothed, 1-3 x 1-4 cm, papery, below finely velvet-hairy, above sparsely velutinous, base heart-shaped. Flowers are borne in clusters of 2-5 (sometimes more) in leaf axils; flower-stalks usually over 10 mm long, mostly twice as long as calyx, reflexed in fruit. False sepals bractlets are 3, equaling calyx, narrowly linear, at least three times as long as wide. Flowers are bisexual, with many stamens, filaments united into staminal column, surrounding a single pistil with approximately l0 stigmas. Calyx is divided to two-thirds of its length into 5 ovate- triangular lobes, margin long-fringed with hairsd, barely enlarging in fruit. Petals are whitish pink, oblong- lanceshaped, flat or shallowly notched, barely surpassing calyx by no more than a few mm, 1.4-5.2 mm (sometimes up to 12 mm) long, claws bearded. In the bud, flowers are distinctly twisted (contorted) which persists even after flower opening . Small Mallow is native to Europe, naturalized in hill stations of India.
Medicinal uses: Malva pusilla has medicinal uses. The leaves are demulcent, which can be used as a soothing agent to relieve minor pain and membrane inflammation. They can used to treat inflammation of the digestive and urinary systems. The seed of the Malva pusilla can be used in the treatment of coughs, bronchitis, ulcers, and hemorrhoids. It can also be applied externally to treat diseases of the skin. Although there have been no indications of dangerous toxicity, the leaves of Malva pusilla can be highly concentrated in nitrates, which can be dangerous to animals.

Identification credit: R.K. Nimai Singh Photographed in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand.

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