Abutilon or Indian mallow: Facts and health benefits


Know in one minute about Abutilon or Indian mallow

  • Abutilon is a beautiful, erect velvety shrub that can grow indoor as well as outdoor.
  • This plant acts as a natural antioxidant that fights against bacteria and various diseases.
  • It helps to treat diabetes, inflammation, pain, liver damage, and asthma.
  • Good for heart, brain, heal the wound, repel mosquito, and  improve the male reproductive system
  • Grows in well-drained soil with plenty of light and a moderate amount of water.
  • Fertilize the plant for about 2-3 weeks to obtain the best growth.
  • Pruning is necessary to maintain its size, encourage branching and keep it looking attractive.
  • Easy to propagate using stem cuttings or by seeds.


Indian mallow (Abutilon indicum) is an erect, woody, and shrubby medicinal plant that belongs to the family ‘Malvaceae’.  All part of the plant is traditionally used by Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani system of medicine for preparation of many medicines.

It is beneficial to treat jaundice, piles, ulcer, leprosy, nervous disorders, headache, heart diseases, inflammatory, liver, and paralytic disorders. This plant contains alkaloids, flavonoids, mucilage, tannins, saponins, and glycosides (1).

Geographical distribution

This plant is widespread in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It also found in Taiwan, Thailand, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Australasia

Common name

It is commonly known as Thuthi, Atibala, Country Mallow, Flowering Maple, and Chinese Bellflower. The other name include Indian Abutilon, Indian Lantern Plant, Indian Mallow Abutilon, Monkey Bush, Moon Flower, and Twelve O’Clock Flower

Botanical description

It is a velvety and many-branched shrub. 

Height- This plant can grow up to 1–2 m in height. 

Flower- flowers are orange‐yellow.

Leaves- Leaves are soft, simple, alternate, acute heart-shaped, and green in color.

Seeds- Seeds are black or dark brown and kidney-shaped.

Roots- These plant roots are cylindrical with

a smooth surface, yellow with a strong fragrance, and saltish in taste (2).

Part of plant used

Each part of the Indian mallow has medicinal properties.


  • A decoction of the leaves is used as a mouth wash in toothaches and tender gums. 
  • The leaves are cooked and eaten to treat ulcers, headaches, gonorrhea & bladder infection (bleeding piles)
  • The leaf paste can also be applied on the spot of scorpion bite to relieve pain
  • In India (Orissa), the dried leaves powder of this plant mixed with wheat flour is used for treating uterus displacement by some tribes. 
  • The juice from the leaves of the plant is used in combination with the liquid extract of Allium cepa to treat jaundice.


  • The flowers are used by the tribal population in Southern India to increase the volume of semen in men.
  • The dried flower powder can consume in ghee as a remedy for blood vomiting and cough.
  • Intake of this plant flowers (raw) as an application of boils and ulcers.


  • This plant root extract can be used to cure fever and cough.
  • The roots extract can be consumed as a nerve tonic to cure paralysis and antipyretic.
  • It is also effective to treat an infection like strangury (painful, frequent urination of small volumes) and heamaturia (blood in urine)


The bark is astringent and diuretic.


  • A decoction (boiled concentrated liquid) of seed is given in dysentery, fistula, and eyesores
  • The seeds infusion in water forms a cool drink, useful in treating piles and gonorrhea.
  • It is also used to treat gleets (inflammation and mucus discharge from the urethra) and chronic cystitis (3).

How to take care of Abutilon or Indian mallow 

1. Light

This plant requires full sun in the morning to partial shade in the afternoon to obtain the best growth. 

2. Soil

Well-drained compost-rich soil is best for this plant.  

3. Water

This plant needs water in a moderate amount when the top few inches of soil are dry. Water thoroughly, then allows the soil to dry slightly between watering. 

4. Pruning

Pruning is necessary to control length and keep it looking attractive.

5. Temperature

The ideal temperatures required for healthy growth is 68°F-77°F (15°C-25°C). Make sure to avoid major fluctuations in temperature because it may get rid of its blossoms and buds right away.

6. Repotting

The best time for repotting is done in the spring and should be repotted every year due to its fast growth.  Moreover, this plant needs a bigger pot to grow well.  

7. Fertilizer

Fertilize for about two to three weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season. Suspend fertilizing during the dormant winter period.

How to propagate Abutilon or Indian mellow

Propagation by seeds

Seeds germinate especially in the spring season on soil and cover it with a thin layer of potting compost. Keep moist and warm, they will germinate in about 2–3 weeks.

 Prick the individual seedlings and grow them in individual pots until large enough to plant out.

Propagation by stem cutting 

Choose the stem about four to six inches and at least some internodes. Strip off all the lower leaves and place them in a container with rooting hormone-containing potting soil.

Keep soil slightly damp, not too wet, and bright warm conditions but out of the direct sun. Wait and watch for roots to grow out at 4 to 6 weeks by lightly tugging on the base of the stem. 

Health benefits of Indian mallow

1. Treat diabetes

Indian mallow contains lactone which is beneficial to lower blood glucose levels (4). This is due to the inhibition of glucose absorption and stimulation of insulin secretion (5).

2. Treat inflammation

Flavonoids found in Indian mallow show a wonderful effect on the reduction of inflammation (6).

3. Treat Glioblastoma

Glioblastoma is one type of cancer that begins within the brain.  These cancer cells grow fast and affect the brain and spine as well.  

Indian mallow leaf contains bioactive compounds like methyl caffeate and many more that inhibit brain tumor cell proliferation (7).

4. Repellent mosquito

Indian mallow is rich in beta-sitosterol that can kill the larvae of Aedes aegyptiAnopheles stephensi Liston, and Culex quinquefasciatus larvae (8).

5. Antibacterial properties

The leaf of Indian mallow helps to inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella typhi. Thus intake of these leaves helps to fight against infections (9).

6. Antioxidant properties

Indian mallow contains phenolic and flavonoid compounds that inhibit the reactive oxygen species generation and scavenging of free radicals.

Thus Indian mallow helps to increase antioxidant levels in the blood thus prevent the development of many chronic diseases (10).

7. Keep liver healthy

Indian mallow ingestion helps to reduce the toxicity caused by chemicals in the liver (11). It also increases the antioxidant activity and reduces the levels of lipid peroxidation in the liver thus treat liver damages (12).

8. Relieve pain

This plant contains a compound known as eugenol which is effective to reduce pain (13).

9. Treat asthma

Intake of Indian mallow powder (1 gm for 4 weeks) helps to improve pulmonary functions. Also, reduce the severity of asthmatic attacks thus this plant is good for patients with mild to moderate bronchial asthma (14).

10. Good for heart

Indian mallow leaves contain triterpenoids, flavonoids, tannins, glycosides, and saponins (15). These compounds help to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides levels (bad cholesterol) with an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol) (16).

11. Wound healing properties

Ingestion of Indian mallow extract is beneficial to accelerate the healing process.

It also increases collagen synthesis and helps to complete the healing of wounds due to its antibacterial activity (17).

12. Diuretic properties

Intake of Indian mallow leaf and seed extract help to increase the output of excess fluid, mainly water, potassium, and sodium, by urine without any side effects. (2, 18)

13. Improve male reproductive system

Indian mallow roots are a good source of stigmasterol that acts as a precursor for the synthesis of progesterone hormone. 

It also scavenges oxidative stress and protects testicular structure and function improves reproductive function and sexual activity (19).


1. How to propagate Indian mallow?

Indian mallow can be propagating from both seeds and cuttings. Although this plant grows fast and produces flowering through the stem cutting method. 

2. What animals does Indian mallow attract?

Different types of insects visited the flower such as butterflies, honey bees, and bembix sp. (sand wasp). This plant attracts these insects due to the presence of nectar, pollen grains, fragrance, or color of the flower (20).

3. How to propagate Indian mallow from seed?   

It is very easy to propagate this plant. Place the seed in spring on soil and cover it with a thin layer of potting compost. Keep moist and warm at 28° C temperature, they will germinate in about 2–3 weeks. Once the seedlings are getting established, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on until large enough to plant out.

4. What is Indian mallow?

Indian mallow is an erect velvety‐pubescent shrub that also grown as an ornamental plant. This plant as a whole or its different parts such as leaves, flowers, seeds, roots, and bark has been used for various therapeutic applications.