Common Mallow (Malva sp.)

The mallow is found on road sides and waste places around the world, although it is native to Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa. I took this photo near a children’s playground at Ada Ciganlija. It is a new park and the land had been turned over or disturbed, hence the presence of the mallows. The mallow or malva has darker veins, separated petals, and a hairy stem. There are 20-25 different species in the genus Malva and it is a member of the family Malvaceae. The mallow is edible and here in the Balkans, in times of siege or war, people have survived by eating it. The excerpt below is from the Montana Plant Life web site. The mallow was introduced from Europe to the USA where it is quite common.

Edible Uses:
Leaves and young shoots of common mallow are edible raw or cooked. They have a mild pleasant flavor, and are said to be highly nutritious. They can be added in quantity to salads, and make an excellent lettuce substitute. They can also be cooked as greens. The leaves are mucus-forming, so when cooked in soups etc. they tend to thicken it in much the same way as okra. A decoction of the roots has been used as an egg-white substitute for making meringue. The roots are brought to the boil in water and then simmered until the water becomes quite thick. This liquid can then be whisked in much the same way as egg whites. A tea can be made from the dried leaves. Immature seeds are edible raw or cooked. Having a pleasant nutty flavor, they are nice as a nibble but too small in most cases to collect in quantity.

It is also known as “cheeses” because the fruits look tiny wheels of cheese. It is native to Serbia.

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