Summary of bushmallow and its traditional use

Kumeyaay name: unknown

Bushmallow or Chaparral Mallow (Malacothamnus fasciculatus)


Mendocino bushmallow is native to California and Baja California, where it is a common member of the chaparral and coastal sage scrub plant communities in many regions. It is generally a shrub with a slender, multibranched stem growing 3 to 15 feet in height. It is coated with white or brownish hairs. The gray-green leaves are oval or rounded in shape and sometimes divided into lobes. Flowers come out in summer and are arranged on an elongated cluster. It is great for birds and butterflies.


The Kumeyaay use the seed for food. The flowers of bushmallow were used as cordage. The roots of the mallow plant are used for soothing and healing stomach ulcers.  The roots are rich with mucilage that relieves swelling and inflammation in wounds and sprains. Teas from mallow can help with mouth sores, stomach-aches, heartburn and gas. The leaves of mallow are boiled and the decoction used as a hair rinse. It is left to dry in the hair for dandruff and softening the hair. Roots are used for this purpose in place of leaves in seasons when leaves are unavailable. Cooled decoctions of mallow are used to bath feverish babies.