Writing about my familiar plants has been an enriching experience which has helped me to become more knowledgeable about plants and gain a greater appreciation of the wealth of information in the field of botany. Many plants go through marvelous phases with the seasons not unlike a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Some of them bear fruit I had not noticed before. Dissimilar looking plants can be genetically related. Sometimes their origins are in the far corners of the world.
There is always something to discover about plants. Looking up mallow in particular helped me realize the naivety that engulfed me formerly.
In Turkey I always saw mallow greens growing in abundance along road sides, in fallow fields and empty lots. I used to think that mallow was a non-flowering plant.
When I first moved to Canada I was astonished to see that mallow grew there too. I again didn’t see flowers. It took me a while to put two and two together. The lovely mauve-purple flowers with dark veins that I recognized and the green leaves used in many recipes belonged together. They were both mallow.
To think that because mallow was used as vegetable meant it wouldn’t have flowers was faulty perception all together. Typical of the city slicker in me to not think about the flowers vegetables come from. If vegetables didn’t flower, produce fruit and seed how would they propagate? For instance, eggplants grow from pretty little white to lavender flowers. I saw that eggplants had seed but I never thought how.
Shizhao(talk | contribs) 21 October 2005 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eggplant_flower.JPG
The Turkish name for mallow is 'ebegümeci'. Ebegümeci is used as vegetable in Turkey. Its leaves can be stuffed with rice or minced meat to make dolma-‘stuffed’ mallow leaves just as vine leaves or they can be used to make an ‘olive oil’ dish like most other vegetables and herbs. These are mostly served cold. Many species of the plant are edible. In fact, the flowers and the seeds are eaten as well.
Recipe for ‘olive oil’ mallow:
1 kg. mallow, 2 Tbsp. rice, 1/8 c olive oil, 1/2 c hot water, 2 onions diced, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp sugar.
Place diced onions, rice, olive oil, seasoning and sugar in a pot. Add largely chopped mallow. Add hot water and stir everything.
Cook over high heat for a few minutes and then lower heat to medium and simmer (for about twenty five minutes) until everything is well cooked. If needed add water during cooking.
Serve warm with yogurt.
I now know that the genus in the family Malvaceae, is widespread throughout the temperate, subtropical and tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Europe. It has moved on to America where it is considered an invasive plant.
The color mauve was given its name in 1859 after the French name for this plant, mauve des bois.
Malva is a genus of about 25–30 species of herbaceous annual, biennial, and perennial plants. The ones used in dishes in Turkey are mainly Malva Sylvestris and Malva neglecta. Both are known as common mallow. M. Sylvestris is also known as grand malva or high malva and M. neglecta is known as dwarf malva (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malva). The Turkish name ebegümeci may drive from the word 'gümeç' which means the hexagonal wax cell of a honeycomb which the leaves of the plant may resemble.