The summer is moving along at a pace and is reminding me there is so much more to share with you before this season is over.
As I zoom along on my way to see one patient or another...or as I am out wandering the fields and lanes I stop to take pictures of the wonderful wild herbs that surround the place where I live.
The picture posted here is of the common or High Mallow ( Malva sylvestris), which, among other places, you will find dotted along the hedgerows of our country lanes. This common native produces delicate pink flowers that would make a striking addition to any garden.
High Mallow belongs to the Malvaceae family. This makes it a relative of the Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis). In fact, I like to think of High Mallow as the land-locked Marshmallow. In this sense, their is certainly a similarity in their action with respect to their aerial parts. The leaves and flowers of both herbs being used fresh or dried for bronchial complaints, catarrh, coughs, asthma etc.The herb is both mucilaginous, astringent and anti-inflammatory, which gives it a role to play in irritated and inflamed conditions of the mucous membrane as well as external conditions of the skin.
When you work closely with herbs for many years, you begin to get a sense for more than just their biochemical constituents, you begin to get a sense of their nature.
If anything, High Mallow is feminine and gentle...and perhaps it is for this reason that it has such an affinity for children. Some older belief systems also see High Mallow as being feminine and being governed by the moon and the element of water.
For those of you who have children, the flowers and leaves can be gathered in summer and made into a syrup. The flowers are particularly gentle and may be used alone in syrup form to resolve constipation. Another way to achieve this in summer is add a few of the fresh petals to your salad. As the flowers do not all come out at once, which makes it long lasting in its beauty, you will also be able to pick some of the little seed pods while in their crunchy green stage. These are known as "cheeses".
Another action of the High Mallow is to stimulate the immune system. It does this, in part, by stimulating phagocytic activity. Many people moving away from the use of antibiotics and embracing more natural remedies often turn to the well published Echinacea as an alternative. However, Echinacea is non-indigenous, and usually obtained, at a price, from the chemist or health food shop. I like to look among our native herbs to find home grown solutions. One reason for this is these plants have evolved here and are more likely to thrive in our climate and be abundant. Because they are at home here the biochemical and energetic properties of these herbs will also be at their most potent.
High Mallow has been in bloom since late June. Now is a good time to be out and gathering its leaves and flowers to convert into the medicines you will need in the coming year. It can be converted into syrups, teas, compresses and ointments, being the easiest for home use.