Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weed of the Week: Mallow

As far as I can determine, this ubiquitous weed, commonly called Mallow, is malva parviflora, also picturesquely known as Cheeseweed because the seeds look just like tiny wheels of cheese. Although the malva family is large and there are many types of mallows, the identification photos look just the same as the ones I took in our backyard except for some expected variation in the color of the tiny blossoms.

The ones in our yard are pale lavender.

There is a lot of interesting lore about this plant, or some type of mallow known to the ancients. It is supposedly edible and Herodotus spoke of it as part of his diet. It was planted on graves as a gesture of respect because it was such a perfect plant.

In our yard it is treated quite differently: I pull it up whenever I see it unless it is tangled in with the arugula or unless I'm busy elsewhere and the weeds gain the advantage. That's the only way the plants get as big as the one pictured above, which is about two feet tall.

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