GET­TING A LIT­TLE MALLOW

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Your Letters - En­cy­clopae­dia of Energy. Lim­its to Growth, NZ Lifestyle Block An­thony Salkeld-blears, by email www.nzlifestyle­block.co.nz 47

I’m writ­ing in re­sponse to the ar­ti­cle by Milton Munro on the weed mallow (May 2015). I found the ar­ti­cle very in­ter­est­ing, es­pe­cially about the fact that there are sev­eral species, and that mallow can be eaten. I eat it and know it is very mu­cilagi­nous and sooth­ing to the di­ges­tive tract, mak­ing it a good medic­i­nal plant, as well as good in sal­ads and smooth­ies.

I was so dis­ap­pointed that Milton rec­om­mended us­ing such harsh toxic sprays to get rid of some­thing ben­e­fi­cial to us. Weeds also have an im­por­tant role in na­ture, to fill gaps, cover, pro­tect and re­plen­ish soils and the mi­cro­bial life when the soil is dis­turbed and made bare.

It seems far more sus­tain­able to un­der­stand why plants are where they are and work with na­ture rather than poi­son­ing her and

even­tu­ally our­selves in the process.

M

y wife and I re­cently cel­e­brated our ninth wed­ding an­niver­sary, and what bet­ter way to celebrate than to ditch the j ju­nior agronomistsg with the grand­par­ents and grab some qual­ity time. We ended up spend­ing an ex­tended week­end in Akaroa, sail­ing, dol­phin ex­pe­ri­ences, great food and even bet­ter wine. We had a blast!

I also man­aged to get in a lit­tle weed spot­ting on some of our many walks and one weed in par­tic­u­lar caught my wife’s eye. It has a very strik­ing pur­ple flower and ap­par­ently would look nice in our gar­den. Sigh. There is no es­cap­ing the al­lure of a pretty flower.

The plant she liked was a mallow, the com­mon name given to ap­prox­i­mately 30 mem­bers of the Malva species. They’re a hardy group of plants that have ef­fec­tively colonised most the world and are found ev­ery­where in New Zealand, most com­monly on road sides, in or­chards, drier ar­eas and waste lands.

In New Zealand the most com­mon weed va­ri­eties are the small flow­ered mallow, the dwarf mallow, the French mallow and the large flow­ered mallow. Most mallow species are ed­i­ble (although an­i­mals won’t eat them) with younger leaves mak­ing gga great let­tuce sub­sti­tute,, while older leaves and stems can be boiled or steamed.

One ex­cit­ing mallow fact for you all: did you know that the colour mauve (a soft pur­ple) is ac­tu­ally named af­ter the French name for the mallow?

Iden­ti­fy­ing mal­lows can be an easy job and a very dif­fi­cult job. It’s easy to de­ter­mine if a plant is a mallow, but which mallow is it? That takes some skill so we are just go­ing to fo­cus on iden­ti­fy­ing mal­lows as a whole. They’re gen­er­ally short-lived peren­ni­als; if con­di­tions are good they will live for a few years, if con­di­tions are poor they be­have a bit more like an an­nual or a bi­en­nial. Mal­lows usu­ally creep along the ground (although some do stand up­right), and usu­ally only reach a height of around 20-30cm.

But it’s the fo­liage that re­ally give the mallow away, look­ing very sim­i­lar to deep green gera­nium leaves that al­ter­nate along the stem. They pro­duce a large num­ber of 0.5- 0.5-5cm5cm di­am­e­ter flflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflow­ers flow­ers that are usu­ally pur­ple but oc­ca­sion­ally some species can be white.

HOW TO CON­TROL MALLOW

Con­trol­ling mallow can be a lit­tle tricky. In the home gar­den they can be ef­fec­tively pulled out man­u­ally.

In pas­tures, gar­dens and or­chards it gets a bit harder. There are no good se­lec­tive her­bi­cides to con­trol mallow. In pas­tures, seedling mal­lows can be con­trolled with Pre­side and larger plants can be con­trolled with Vic­tory Gold. Glyphosate is not very ef­fec­tive and it’s bet­ter to use Buster or spike your glyphosate with Ham­mer.

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