Common mallows are annual plants, and sometimes it seems they can be found anywhere, while on other days, they’re nowhere to be found. The common mallow is most visible when it develops flowers in a stunning lilac color. Besides being known by this name, common mallows are also called cheese weed since the leaves resemble cheese wheels.
Common mallows are part of the large family of Malvaceae plants that include cotton, okra, and hibiscus.
Common mallows are edible plants that start to grow in the spring. They develop flowers in late spring/early summer, while flowers become visible during the summer. After the flowering has passed, the plant develops seeds in a small, crinkly, round-shaped sack.
Growing common mallows from seed is easy, and once you establish the plant, it is easy to maintain. It simply grows in almost any soil and does not require any special treatment.
Regarding the common mallow’s appearance, the plant has a deep taproot and low spreading branches that reach from a few inches up to 25 inches long.
The most common color of the flowers is lilac with fuchsia lines, but they also come in white or pinkish.
The leaves of common mallows are alternate, on long petioles, circular to kidney-shaped, toothed and shallowly 5–9 lobed, and 2–6 cm wide. Short hairs present on upper and lower leaf surfaces, margins, and petioles.
When it comes to eating common mallows, all parts of the plant are edible. The leaves can be used in salads in fresh form, and you can even use the flowers in the same way. Besides being used in salads, the leaves are great to add to soups or to make mallow fritters.
As stated above, the best way to use them is fresh in salads. Here is a simple recipe with an amazing flavor.
You will need the following:
- 1 ½ bunch common mallows, washed and drained
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 2 oz. feta cheese, chopped
- 1 handful chopped almonds
- 2 dried mini chili peppers, crushed, or 1 chili pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2–3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Salt, to taste
Instructions (makes 3–4 servings):
#1. Combine the common mallows’ leaves in a bowl with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, almonds, and chili peppers.#2. Pour the olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette over it, and season to taste with salt.#3. Stir gently and serve, garnished with some common mallow flowers.
If you want you can make more of a hearty dish using mallows. You only need ½ Tb Olive oil, 2 cups of mallows (roughly chopped), one small onion and salt and paper to taste. First heat a skillet on medium heat, add olive oil. Afterwards, add the onion, and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the leaves and the salt and pepper. Add a squeeze of lemon, and serve immediately.
The Benefits of Eating Common Mallows
Common mallows are highly nutritious and contain significant levels of vitamins A, B, C, and E; inulin; phenols; flavonoids; essential fatty acids; fiber; calcium; magnesium; selenium; and potassium. It also boosts the immune system by preventing infections and other foreign agents to affect wounded areas.
Pregnant women or new mothers may like to know that mallow leaves can provide useful amounts of iron as well as being quite high in zinc and most vitamins.
You can also use it as a pain reliever, particularly in topical applications. If you have been wounded or injured, you can apply the leaves in the form of a poultice to the affected area. The leaves help to speed healing, due to their rich vitamin content, but will also offer certainproperties to the area, reducing pain and discomfort. The poultice can also be used for insect bites, bruises, sunburn, or rashes, it can be very effective for reducing inflammation and swelling.
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