Friday 18 March 2016


The Darebin Parklands are a great treasure trove of plants both native and exotic, some planted purposefully and others self-seeding and often dismissed as "weeds". We often walk there and find that many of these "weeds" are useful plants to pick and put on the table as salads, boiled greens, infusion bases or to be taken medicinally.

Just a word or two of caution! Unless you are sure that you have identified a plant correctly, do not pick it, much less consume it! Many poisonous plants are unfortunately similar in appearance to the ones that are nutritious and beneficial. Some plants may require special treatment in order to become edible (eg cooking rather eating them raw) and some plants belong to groups whose consumption is contraindicated in certain diseases (eg. kidney disease or gout). Do not eat plants that you do not recognise! Many parklands are now routinely sprayed with herbicides. Do not collect plants that have been sprayed! And finally, while nobody objects to you picking "weeds", be very careful not to disrupt the environment and do not damage the delicate native species. Do not collect from areas with protected flora!

Mallow is one of the plants we collect: Malva is a genus of about 25–30 species of herbaceous annual, biennial, and perennial plants in the family Malvaceae (of which it is the type genus), one of several closely related genera in the family to bear the common English name mallow. The genus is widespread throughout the temperate, subtropical and tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Europe. The word "mallow" is derived from Old English "malwe", which was imported from Latin "malva", cognate with Ancient Greek μαλάχη (malakhē) meaning "mallow", both perhaps reflecting a Mediterranean term.

Malva sylvestris shown here is considered to be the type species for the genus. Known as common mallow to English speaking Europeans, it acquired the common names of cheeses, high mallow and tall mallow (mauve des bois by the French) as it migrated from its native home in Western Europe, North Africa and Asia through the English speaking world. M. sylvestris is a vigorously healthy plant with showy flowers of bright mauve-purple, with dark veins; a handsome plant, often standing 1 metre high and growing freely in fields, hedgerows and in fallow fields.

These mallows are edible as leaf vegetables and commonly foraged in the West. Known as ebegümeci in Turkish, it is used as vegetable in Turkey in various forms such as stuffing the leaves with bulgur or rice or using the boiled leaves as a side dish. Greeks use this as a leaf vegetable and as a stewing herb to be cooked together with spinach, silverbeet and leek as a filling for vegetable pies (hortópita).

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the Friday Greens meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely flower. The name is "nalbă or Nalba mare (Althaea officinalis)". Greetings!


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