Foraging wild food uk: Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris) Winter & Summer plant identification UK

By | July 14, 2017

Foraging wild food uk. Foraging Common Mallow. As a native wild food plant, Malva sylvestris spreads widely on waste and rough ground, by roads and railways throughout lowland UK, England, Wales and Channel Islands and can be found from coast to woodland and urban environments all over Britain and Ireland.

Malva sylvestris is a species of the mallow genus Malva in the family of Malvaceae and 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 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 3 or 4 feet (1 m) high and growing freely in fields, hedgerows and in fallow fields.

The young leaves when boiled is a wholesome vegetable and was eaten in several parts of Europe in the 19th century.

M. sylvestris has been used medicinally since ancient times, and is still used in modern phytotherapy. Mucilage is present in many of the Malvaceae family including M. sylvestris, especially the fruit. The seeds are used internally in a decoction or herbal tea as a demulcent and diuretic, and the leaves made into poultices as an emollient for external applications. Mallow can also be taken internally for its laxative effect.

The species has long been used as a natural yellow dye, perhaps more recently, cream colour, yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the plant and the seeds. A tincture of the flowers can make a very sensitive test for alkalis.

Malva neglecta is an annual growing to 0.6 m (2ft). It is also known as common mallow in the United States and also buttonweed, cheeseplant, cheeseweed, dwarf mallow and roundleaf mallow. Although often considered a weed, this plant is often consumed as a food. This is especially true of the seeds, which contain 21% protein and 15.2% fat.

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