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Common Mallow, Malva neglecta Equals Foraging Fun!

Malva neglecta
Common Mallow
Malvaceae family
Nicknames: Cheeseweed, Dwarf Mallow, Round Mallow, Cheese Plant
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***important…please do not confuse Common Mallow with the Common Carolina Geranium Weed. The geranium weed has more deeply dissected leaves but these two can be easily confused!***

Please note image of the Carolina Geranium weed in the following site:

http://www.msuturfweeds.net/details/_/carolina_geranium_12/#weeddetail
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More about Common Mallow
Malva neglecta

Annual/Biennial
Habitat: grows in areas where
soil has been disturbed:

Vacant lots
Yards
Fields
Sides of roads
Cultivated fields
Likes sandy soil
Can grow in clay
or loamy soil
Likes full sunlight
Can do partial shade
Can grow with some dampness in soil
Prefers well drained soil
*Drought Tolerant

Can grow up to 2 feet tall
Flowers June-September
All parts including roots are edible

The following site is comprehensive and gives information on planting, pollination, avoiding nitrates, hardiness zones, where it grows in the world, etc.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Malva+neglecta

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Underside of common mallow leaf:
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These are all my photos. A happy endeavor and a learning reference tool also! Please bring a good field guide or forager who knows!

*Some people have confused ground ivy with common mallow!*
Some ground ivy smells like mint.
And, the edible ground ivy is in the mint family.

This is ground Ivy!

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Some ground ivy is edible*** but not all ground cover is edible.***

Here are sites on edible ground ivy

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Glechoma%20hederacea

http://www.eattheweeds.com/ground-ivy/

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Now back to Common Mallow:

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TRADITIONAL USE

According to http://www.livestrong.com:

Historians have traced Malva neglecta’s use as a vegetable back almost 3,000 years. The ancients used leaves and shoots as cooking greens and salad ingredients, while the seeds were used to accent dishes or as snacks. The plant’s traditional medicinal uses included soothing skin rashes and easing coughs. It was also used to reduce inflammation in the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.

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Not far away from this plant was this beautiful bridge above the Snake River.

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INSIGHT AND REFLECTIONS:

I found the common mallow about 3 miles away from the Snake River Gorge in Idaho. This bridge and shadow forms an ellipse. A path that brings you back. After an orbit of other experiences. Like a marker in time. It helps me reflect upon the fact that the common mallow was the first edible/medicinal weed I learned about on this journey of documenting wild plants. It caught my interest as I was web surfing wild edible and medicinal plants. I posted it on facebook to share with others. I had found a helpful site…all about common mallow. Malva neglecta. I wanted to share an interesting site. That event was a marker for me. A few months later, I started writing and researching and photographing wild edibles myself. I started the blog that you are reading now. Malva neglecta took me on a journey. An elliptical one. Like an orbit. I am changed now since I first posted an internet site about common mallow. Because, it caught my interest then. And, now I have first hand experience looking for, researching and eating mallow as a wild edible. I have come around the ellipse changed. And, malva neglecta got me there. Waiting for me to turn the bend around the ellipse to find it in real space and time.

I am learning a lot about wild edibles. Documenting and photographing plants when and where I can. I am an enthusiast and a student as I go. I research as much as I can.

I wonder too, about the qualities each plant contains. Common mallow is mucilaginous and soothing. It helps with stomach upset. It soothes skin abrasians and heals skin wounds. It is common. It is found many places in the world. It has been a food during times of starvation. It is nutrient rich and is related to such beautiful plants as hollyhock and the beautiful Rose of Sharon. Even jute leaves are edible. The mallow family has taught me a lot and I have only just begun.

I did an art and poetry piece about common mallow: Malva neglecta. Reflecting on what I have learned about the plant and how it reflects some learning in my life.

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So learning about plants and wild edibles and medicinal edibles means you get to “get real” about the experience. So, the next day after locating some and photographing it, I picked some common mallow for the first time. I wonder how many of my ancestors foraged for mallow too? I was excited about foraging. It did not look like an area that had experienced run off from farms or other pollutants. Common mallow can absorb nitrates from contaminated soil so some caution here is warranted.
But, it looked like a good foraging area to me so I went and picked some.

I tried some common mallow along with young lettuce leaves. What I noticed is that soon after I picked it the mallow wilted quickly.

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I have limited refrigeration as I travel so I put the mallow in a bowl with a bit of water to keep it from wilting too much. I harvested at noon so the noon heat in Idaho in July may have contributed to the wilting. When I took the mallow out later they had absorbed the water and looked perky again.

I harvested the small wheels of fruit which people say look a lot like small wheels of cheese. I foraged the flowers, flower buds, stems and leaves too.
I boiled them for just a few minutes. They were delightful tasting. They could easily substitute or be mixed with spinach either raw or cooked.
I had a very favorable experience foraging Malva neglecta. I hope you do too!

(On a cautionary note here is some information about nitrates:)

http://www.livestrong.com/article/283850-why-is-sodium-nitrate-bad-for-you/

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While learning about foraging and wild edibles and medicinal plants, I really enjoy and appreciate this perspective by Susun Weed:

http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Malvaceae-family.htm

“Let’s focus on the Malvaceae family for a moment. One of my favorite ways of learning — and teaching — about plants is through their families. Each plant family is a group of plants that has the same flower chacteristics. Interestingly enough, the plants in a family frequently have the similar actions and uses. Learning about a plant family, rather than just one plant, not only helps you identify more plants, it gives you an idea of how to use them.”

HEALING PROPERTIES and FOOD USE:

Also according to Susun Weed:

“Virtually all parts of the mallows have been eaten or used as medicine including the fresh leaves, dried leaves, fresh roots, dried roots, and both green and ripe seeds.

The primary effect of most mallows is to soothe and heal mucus surfaces. Overheated respiratory, digestive, reproductive, and urinary systems especially benefit.

The mucilage present in the roots and seeds, and to a lesser degree the leaves, can help ease and heal irritations and infections such as sore throats, acid indigestion, stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, bronchitis, chronic coughs, badder infections, interstitial cystitis, colds, and dry mouth. Some sources find mallow medicine helpful for those with diabetes, painful periods, and lack of menstruation.”

The mallow family includes beautiful, edible, medicinal, and useful plants such as hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, hollyhock, marshmallow, okra, jute, and cotton. (Cotton is not edible)

Susun Weed also describes mallow’s benefits including malva neglecta:

Excellent for “healing and relieving the pain of cuts, scrapes, boils, bruises, swellings, and stings…
I (Susun Weed) especially likes mixing chopped fresh hibiscus or mallow leaves with honey and applying this to my eyelids to relieve tired, sore, dry eyes. Works great as a facial, too!”

I found the following site and cited text very helpful.

http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/plants-c/bio414/species%20pages/malva%20neglecta.htm

“Uses Commonly used as a demulcent or emollient (7). Stems and leaves can be made as a poultice to relive pain and inflammation (7). Tea is pleasant tasting, good for sore throats and tonsillitis(7). Traditionally drunk in New Mexico for facilitation of labor and as a wash for skin irritations in infants (7). The tea can also help indigestion, stomach sensitivity, and can be gargled for cough relief (8). Entire plant has been boiled and eaten esp. used in soups; flowers are more pleasant in taste (2). Flowers are popularly eaten after being pickled (2). Leaves and young fruits have been used in salads (2).”

TRADITIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN USE:

Source: http://montana.plant-life.org/species/malva_neglec.htm

“The Cherokee Indians put the flowers in oil and mixed them with tallow for use on sores. The Iroquois Indians made a compound infusion of plants applied as poultice to swellings of all kinds, and for broken bones. They also applied it to babies’ swollen stomach or sore back. The Mahuna Indians used the plant for painful congestions of the stomach. The Navajo, Ramah Indians made a cold infusion of plants taken and used as a lotion for injuries or swellings. The plant is also an excellent laxative for young children.”

“Other Uses: Cream, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seed heads. The root has been used as a toothbrush.”
(The roots can be untwisted and dried to make a brush.)

http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/flowers/m.html

*Sap from the leaves, called ~mucilage~ can treat bites and stings.
*Mallow makes a weavable fiber…useful fiber

“The flowers were used formerly on May Day by country people for strewing before their doors and weaving into garlands. Musk mallow, was also used to decorate the graves of friends.”

NUTRITIONAL QUALITIES:

According to this Source: http://www.squidoo.com/malva

Mallows contain:
-Vitamin C
-Vitamin A
-Calcium
-Magnesium
-Potassium
-Iron
-Selenium

I have a treasured reference. A book I refer to often and have with me whenever I need to look at something or gain more information about a plant or how or when to forage, etc. This is it.

Edible Wild Plants. North American Field Guide to over 200 Natural Foods. by Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman, Sterling Publishing 1982.

Here are guidelines and information from this reference. P. 146

FOOD USES AND PREPARATION:

Eat malva fruits raw
*Boiled root water can be a vegan
Substitute for meringue!
Strain roots also
Sweeten liquid
Boil until thick
Beat and drop spoonfuls on waxed paper and cool to make a candy. Roll in confectioner’s sugar

Fry boiled rootslices in butter
And ch. onion until browned

The whole plant contains mucilagelike material

Leaves can be eaten like spinach raw or cooked

Use in soups as a thickener

Flowers and fruit and seeds are edible
Along with stems, leaves and roots

Flower buds are good pickled and most likely fruit too.

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I hope that you enjoy foraging for Malva neglecta! Common mallow is a commmon wonderful edible and/or medicinal weed! Enjoy!

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Burdock the Edible Medicinal Root. From Burrs to Rhubarb and Back to Burdock!

Arctium minus
Common Burdock

This is Burdock!       

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*Caution!* Sometimes the word dock is used as a nickname for Yellow dock/Curly dock as well as Burdock!
Here is my post on Curly Dock a.k.a. Yellow Dock Each plant has very different effects when used!

*I am not an expert. I am an enthusiast. Please seek expert advice and identification for all foraged plants!*

Now back to my discovery of Burdock…with some help from a friend! Phew (wipes sweat from brow!)

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Burdock flowering

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Identifying wild plants is serious business.  For example, I initially mistook this plant for rhubarb. WRONG!   BURDOCK it is.  Young burdock can be confused with FOXGLOVE which is deadly poisonous… so take an expert with you and a field guide too!

****Here is a helpful page to distinguish between new growth of burdock and foxglove. Check it out!

http://www.woodland-ways.co.uk/blog/wild-food-diaries/one-to-watch-out-for/

Burdock:  sometimes it is mistaken for rhubarb.  I know that well.  I had forgotten what I knew as a child.  What I had learned in the New England woods…that rhubarb likes damp soil.  Soil prone to swampiness like its plant neighbor skunk cabbage.  Known for its strong skunky odor.  I find skunk cabbage fascinating.

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And when its roots are broken it emits the skunky odor.

But, on this day with visions of strawberry rhubarb in my head…I found BURDOCK!

I made a newbie mistake.  I found what I thought I was looking for…meaning you want to see what you are looking for…but stumbled upon an even more complex and exciting plant for me.  BURDOCK.

Embarrassingly…I posted a picture of burdock as rhubarb.  I dressed burdock up as rhubarb and I am grateful my friend Ed noticed.  Being my facebook friend, and my friend for 30 years where we met as young adults…it is fun to know we both share an active interest in wild edibles and wildflowers.

He wrote me back and said the plant looked a lot like burdock or dock as he called it.  So, I want to thank my friend for showing me the way to burdock…through a strawberry rhubarb colored door…I took a carnival door…filled with tricks in mirrors…on my discovery to the world of Edible and Medicinal BURDOCK. 
Here is a picture of my friend as a child

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And, what I am gathering on this journey is that allies appear in life and I thank Ed for being that role for me.  And, I could see that burdock wanted me to move past sweetened stalks of rhubarb in pies and rhubarb’s poisonous leaves…to the healing edible nutrition of burdock’s roots.

So, I delved deeper.  Learning that burdock creates burrs after the flowers bloom…I remembered.

I remembered being a four year old girl and visiting a childhood friend of my mother.  This felt like a special event for the two women and I remember playing outside in the meadow like area in the back of the house.

I felt this irresistable urge to go deeper and deeper in.  Being only four at the time the weeds and wildflowers came up to my chest or higher.

Inexplicably, I kept forging a path ahead.  I even remember what I was wearing that day.  A shell pink cableknit sweater and slacks.  Usually I had a strong aversion to pink but, for some reason I really favored this sweater.

As my mom retreated into a world of reminiscences and fond reconnection with her childhood friend…I felt the tethers of my own hesitation unraveling.

There I was, deep into the middle of the weeds and it seemed stunningly and shockingly, that in an instant, unrecognizably, I was covered by sticky velcro like brown orbs.  Where my favorite outfit had been…my tenacious exploration had put me into the grasp of a completely altered physical appearance.  I had never experienced such a startling shift.

I was covered head to toe in sticky burrs.

It was then my tether to my mother twisted and braided itself back to my mother and I just hollered for her.  And, finally what seemed an infinity she came to see what my dilemma was.  And, she seemed to agree with me that I was indeed changed in appearance.  I never could get all those burrs out of that sweater.

The only photo I have of myself at that age is a family snapshot of my 2 brothers and sister and me.

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So, seeing Ed’s picture of himself as a child reminded me that I had already met burdock.  It stands out as a unique and startling experience at how rapid transformation can be!

A lot of research about Burdock has ensued and please get “second opinions” but, what I’ve read is that the root has culinary and herbal healing value. 

Its scientific name is:  Arctium Minus
It is in the Daisy Family! Or Asteraceae Family!

In order to harvest…look for first year foliage.  Seek expert advice here.  Do not confuse FOXGLOVE with BURDOCK.

Harvest Burdock when it has formed a base of leaves but still close to the ground.  If the stalks have formed long…then it is an older plant.

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The root is deemed the most nutritious when in the fall of its first year the energy of the plant turns back down into the roots.  The roots are dark brown on the outside and white on the inside.  And taste akin to carrots or parsnips.  Second year plant roots are woody and less nutrient rich since the burdock plant is biennial and flowers in its second year.  The root is used as energy for the plant and thereby less tasty and nutritious.

I’ve tried burdock only once and sauteed it.  It stays crunchy is what I remember.  Now I have a better idea how to harvest it. 

A popular Japanese dish called Kinpira Gobo would be a great way to try burdock.  Sauteed burdock with carrots and daikon… many recipes online!

******Here is a helpful site:*******

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/asianveg/msg0620555927082.html

What I’ve also read is that burdock is a blood purifier and removes toxins from your blood…and being diuretic in nature…you pee out the toxins. 
Hey, but remember I’m an enthusiast not an expert and just like to hand out tidbits I’ve learned! 

Thankyou for traveling with me on the carnivalesque way that burdock has greeted me throughout my life with the help of a friend and wild edible and wildflower enthusiast like myself.  Plus Ed’s a kickass gardener.  Inspiration!

Milkweed is for Monarchs and Mullein is a Soil Indicator!

Verbascum thapsus
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Common Mullein

What a Beautiful day today…travelin’ through Virginia!  So Beautiful, in fact, that I started to feel anxious! Were we ever going to stop and get out to take a closer look at all the beautiful wildflowers we were passing by.

And, passing by…is just that! I was jonesin for a closer look!  Two plants especially caught my attention.
Mullein and Milkweed.

Mullein has a fabulous stalk rushing out the top…with glorious yellow blooms! 

I’ve heard and read that mullein has many medicinal uses such as for cough, respiratory ailments.  A friend of mine even dries the leaves and smokes it to ease lung irritations!  I guess the smoke eases his symptoms.

Look at this grand mullein plant!

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The mullein stalk, when in bloom, bears beautiful, small yellow flowers. These flowers, when infused in oil, make a good remedy for ear infections. A traditional remedy.

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Not for use with injured ears or perforated eardrums.
Seek medical help when needed.

Here is an interesting blend of 5 leaves that can be mixed as an alternative to tobacco. Some leaves are recommended dry whereas some with some moisture still so please be sure to check it out. It is a wonderful guide written by Amy Jeanroy who I also quote further on.

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/herbrecipes/tp/What-Herbs-Can-Be-Used-For-Smoking-Mixtures.htm

Here are the 5 herbs recommended as a substitute blend for tobacco and perhaps helpful for non tobacco users as well.

-Raspberry Leaves
-Catnip
-Sage
-Lemon Balm
-Mullein

And for those of you looking for medicinal uses here is some good info.

Here is a website that has mullein uses:
http://herbgardens.about.com/od/medicinalherbs/p/Mullein.htm

I can’t resist in showing you some of the photos I captured of sensuously lusty Mullein I found today in Virginia!

Basal leaves of Mullein

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Here are some old dried remaining stalks of mullein.

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So it is the lovely Mullein that encouraged me to poke around today.  There is so much to learn and I am a passionate enthusiast of foraging.

Here is a VERY USEFUL piece of information that I have learned from Amy Jeanroy on the above posted site herbgardens.about.com (please click on link above)

I use this information and use mullein as an indicator of contamination in soil not just for mullein itself but other nearby plants. *******

****”mullein is a wonderful indicator of a soil’s contamination level. When looking for wild mullein, only harvest from straight, vigorous stalks. The crooked stalks indicate a high level of chemical contamination in the soil.”****

Mullein near the atlantic ocean, in the dunes and sand.



Here also is a wonderful site for those who are also interested in a spiritual and/or holistic view of plants. Mullein in particular. It definitely did act like a torch for me. Leading me toward it and around it. Comforting me by its familiarity and intriguing me by its extensive amount of uses. This is an inspiring, historical account and very useful site in understanding Mullein’s many useful preparations.


http://bearmedicineherbals.com/a-golden-torch-mullein%E2%80%99s-healing-light.html


And here is a species of Mullein I noticed in New Hampshire.

I had never seen one with so many flower stalks!

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(above image from wikimedia commons)

Nearby the healthy, useful and beautiful mullein that I saw was the glorious common milkweed!

The nearby Milkweed was showing its beautiful blooms!

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I was lucky enough to take some beautiful pictures of milkweed and their immature blooms and foliage today! There are many types of milkweed but, I believe, this is Asclepias syriaca.

I am concerned about butterfly habitat. I used to write about foraging the common milkweed but, encourage planting and preserving the habitat of the Monarch Butterfly instead of foraging. Milkweed is habitat for the Monarch butterfly. AND, the Monarch butterfly is in serious danger. 

So, preserving and protecting and extending their habitat and the habitat of the milkweed is my goal of emphasis for this post now.

Plant milkweed, be a part of the Monarch butterfly’s habitat and the milkweed’s. It’s that easy and fun, too.

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Signing off for now….wildlettucegal

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