Malva nicaeensis (Bull mallow)

Moisture is life, and we all arose from the sea. Water is emotive, moving, avoiding being static; wetness is relaxing. We are all creatures inhabited by water and requiring water. As R. W. Kimmerer writes, plants are structures to move water. The earth is a structure to hold and move water. Mallow species, from the Malvaceae Family along with cotton, hibiscus, and okra, are moisturizing plants. Mallow thrives in disturbed and dry soils, and brings moisture to inflamed ecological conditions. In the body, they moisten lung tissues, digestive organs, and the skin. Their mucilage is anti-inflammatory.

Mallow plants open your heart; mallow has been used for love charms and spells. Those hand-like leaves, like saucers or antennae for other-worldly whispers, open to whoever needs a hand. Mallow brings balance, some herbalists say, and Pliny (23-79CE) wrote in his Natural History, “whoever swallows daily half a cyathus of the juice of any one of them (Malvas) will be immune to all diseases”..

Mallows are annual or biennials and for most species, all parts are edible. The seeds in round pods, that look both like sacred geometry and cheese wheels, have high protein content and can be cooked like rice. Leaves and flowers have a sweet taste, and have been cultivated informally as a food crop. In wartime, when crops are scarce, this plant has provided sustenance. Ancient texts reveal that mallow was grown on gravesites, as the plant could feed the dead.

Elizabeth Oriel 2022