Mallow

Common Mallow, Malva Sylvestris & Malva Neglecta
Malva (Sylvestris) grows all along the coastline where I live, it's the big tall one with large green leaves and pink flowers (pictured). The smaller, dwarf mallow (Malva Neglecta) sprouts all over my garden from the horsepoo I have added to the soil. The majestic Marsh Mallow (Althea officinalis) grows in my garden in Summer which I planted for medicinal use.
The leaves, flowers & fruits of Mallows (from the Malvaceae family, just like Hibiscus) are all edible. Mallows have a long history of use as food & medicine, dating back to the 8 century BC.
Mallow are well known for their muciligenic properties, which can be soothing to the skin and to internal passages. 'Malva' originates from Greek, meaning to soothe & soften. Mucilage is soothing to a sore throat, or to an upset digestive tract & tummy. It's the mucilegenic property which makes mallow go slimy when you cook it, where it can be used as a thickening agent in all sorts of recipes, especially soups & stews.
M. Sylvestris is an excellent "pot herb" (essentially any green that works well thrown in the pot for soups & stews etc), and I often add it to Frittata. Raw I slice the leaves of M. Neglecta finely & add to salads. The flowers look lovely in salads or baking decoration. The fruits can be eaten like peas, straight off the plant or cooked just like regular peas. Of course cooking any mallow leaves or fruits will cause them to go gooey.
Marshmallows (the ones you cook on a campfire) were originally derived from Mallow roots (although what they're made from now, who knows!). 'Edible Wild Plants' by John Kallas has many interesting recipes for making mallow 'whites' and using them in candies and meringues.
Melokhia is a national dish in Egypt where it's preparation is portrayed in pharaonic tomb paintings. Wow. It uses a vegetable very simillar to Mallow & it can be easily made with mallow leaves. It's a peasants soup which you can add more or less anything to. There's a simple recipe in 'Simply Living' by Gwen Skinner. (an excellent NZ foraging guide, out of print, keep your eyes peeled for it at op shops!)

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