Although it’s unlikely to be flowering yet, the leaves and stems of mallow are edible and perfect for picking now.
The common mallow is part of the large family of Malvaceae plants that include cotton, okra and hibiscus.
It is a large, spreading plant with beautiful deep pink flowers that appear from June to October. It can be found on roadside verges, along footpaths and on waste ground. The leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible and like with many of our non native “weeds” there is evidence that the Romans brought the plant to Britain to be used for food and medicine.
The leaves can be added to a salad, the fruit can be a substitute for capers and the flowers can be tossed into a salad.
The leaves are rich in protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C and have been used in traditional remedies to treat constipation and diarrhoea, dry throat and chesty cough. When cooked, the leaves create a mucus very similar to okra and can be used as a thickener to soups and stews. The flavour of the leaves is mild and dried leaves can be used to make a tea.
Mallow roots also release a thick mucus when boiled in water. The thick liquid that is created can be beaten to make a meringue-like substitute for egg whites.
Mallow is more common growing wild in Wales and the south of England
If you are going to forage for Mallow, please follow the simple guidelines:
- Always be sure you are sure of the plant before you pick it and never eat any plant you are unsure of.
- Leave plenty behind for wildlife.
- Make sure you have permission to pick
- Only pick where plants are plentiful