Sida rhomboidea: Country mallow, Kurunthotti

Family: Malvaceae
Common name: Country mallow, Morning mallow, Kurunthotti, Mahabala

There are many species of Sida spread throughout India, most of them used extensively in traditional herbal medicine and Ayurveda. These plants grow to a height of 80-100 cms with a heavily branched, purple colored stem and dark green leaves.

Sida rhomboidea plants form small, sturdy shrubs that look very unique because of their leaves, that are almost heart-shaped, and serrated around the edges.

Leaves are 3-8 cms long and almost the same width, tapering towards the stem or petiole. The have sparse hairs on the upper surface and thick white hair on the lower surface.

Sida rhomboidea or Kurunthotti plants produce small yellow flowers that are about 5mm in diameter very similar to those of Sida acuta or Common wireweed.

These flowers are pollinated by insects, bees and ants that are attracted to them. After pollination, the plants produce small fruits that contain brownish-black seeds that are about 2 mm long.

Sida Rhomboidea plants have many medicinal uses, especially the leaves. Pounded leaves and roots are used to treat fever, stomach ailments, heart diseases, piles, snake bites, scorpion bites, rheumatism, tuberculosis, epilepsy, eye diseases and inflammations.

They are said to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. In hilly areas, tribals forage the land in search of medicinal plants like Sida rhomboidea, Sida cordifolia, and Sida corymbosa to be used by companies that produce Ayurvedic medicines.

Sida species is mostly seen in tropical countries, with warm, humid weather. Some homes grow them as medicinal plants, but they are mostly seen in the wild, growing and flowering well without any maintenance. They are tolerant of drought and poor soil conditions, thriving and flowering provided there is good sunlight.

Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings.