Survival food: Mallow plant

Posted: March 23, 2014 by Rex Trulove in Survival, survival food, wild food
Tags: , , , , , , ,

ImageOne of the necessities if you are trying to survive an apocalypse of any sort is to make sure that you have something nutritious to eat. Thankfully, there are a lot of different wild plants that are quite edible, widespread, easy to identify and even tasty. Among this is a plant called Mallow, also known as Cheeses or Cheeseweed.

There are quite a few species of mallow, which means that one species or another can be found in most habitats and climates. They are also distributed nearly worldwide, excluding only Antarctica. In fact, as many gardeners will attest, once established, it is very hard to get rid of these plants without poisoning the soil.

Common mallow (Malva neglecta) is representative of the mallows. They tend to be low growing plants with a roundish leaf, deep green in color. The tap root is stout and long, and a new plant can arise from even a small piece of the root – part of the reason it is despised by gardeners. The blossoms are usually pinkish-white, normally with five petals. These give way to seeds that are arranged in a segmented circle, not unlike a round of cheese, hence their alternate name. A well-known member of the family is the garden hollyhock, which has a similar appearance to mallow, though usually much larger in all respects. (Hollyhock is also edible.)

The entire mallow plant is edible. Many kids have experienced munching on the raw cheeses. The leaves can be added to salads, raw, or they can be cooked as a potherb. Additionally, they can be added to soups and stews. The cheeses and the roots can also be cooked. When these are cooked, they release a sort of mucilage that can thicken soups or stews. This trait is one of the uses of a member of the family: Okra. The flowers can add a splash of color to salads.

Mallow also has medicinal properties. It is an expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and very mildly laxative. For these purposes, it is often made into a tea at a rate of one tablespoon of the leaves to a cup of boiling water. The leaves can also be dried for this purpose. The flavor is bland and the tea can be sweetened with honey. Externally, mallow is emollient and demulcent, so it can be rubbed on dry or chapped skin as well as on cuts, scrapes, insect bites and punctures.

This is a multi-purpose plant for survivalists and others. The plant is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. This makes it useful for hikers and campers, as well as for people who are just trying to stretch their meals.

It is good to become acquainted with this wild herb and to learn to identify it on sight. That way, should you ever find yourself in a survival situation, you will have at least one identifiable source of usually-plentiful food.

(The picture is by Soulignac (Gironde, France) 2004 – GFDL, creative commons share-alike, unported)

  1. alexrawfootage says:

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  2. The next post in my Ruth story mentions some of the other survival plants that can be eaten or helpful in a zombie apocalypse. You beat me by a week for a zombie apocalypse plant post.

    The mallows are very prevalent, (most gardeners consider them weeds), and are common in my corner of the States. Horses and other large herbivores like cattle, I have noticed, will nibble on the various mallow plants occasionally. Smaller livestock such as sheep, goats, and lamas will eat the mallows with relish.

    Mallow tea can be quite bitter. The leaves for tea should be harvested from plants ideally that are not near a road to avoid pollution. Also try to get mallow leaves for tea from an area clear of pesticides and herbicides.

    • Rex Trulove says:

      I write a lot of articles elsewhere about edible wild plants (and/or medicinal ones) and simply felt that it would be appropriate here. To survive, people have to eat, after all. I enjoy adding wild plants for our camp dinners when we are able to go camping, in fact. I’ll be writing about more plants like this here, in the future.

      We have a lot of common mallow that grows in our backyard and I picked a bunch of it last year to cook like spinach. I haven’t noticed any bitterness in the leaves. The base of the flowers or cheeses can be a little bitter, though.

      It is gradually warming up here in the Montana Rockies, which means that the cattails are starting to come up. With that in mind, one of my next survival food plants that I’ll likely cover will be cattails. They are one of my favorites.

      I do hope that you liked the post, though!

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