There couldn’t be more flowers on my oldest 17 year old Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde)!
There couldn’t be more flowers on my oldest 17 year old Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde)!
Malva alcea (greater musk-mallow, cut-leaved mallow, vervain mallow or hollyhock mallow / Norw: rosekattost) is a mallow native to southwestern, central and eastern Europe and southwestern Asia, from Spain north to southern Sweden and east to Russia and Turkey. It is easy to confuse with musk mallow (Malva moschata). It is a much larger plant than moschata. My plant is the upright form Malva alcea var. fastigiata and reaches 1.8m, double the height of moschata. I had this for many years, but it was sterile and I suspected it was a hybrid with moschata. It finally died after some 15 years and I sourced new seed through the Scottish Rock Gardening Club seed list in winter 2012-2013. It grew quickly, produced seed and has self-sowed in a few places in the garden, growing well in the half shady conditions my garden provides for. Here it is, filmed from my balcony today:
It is often planted in gardens as it flowers for a long time in summer. It has naturalised in the UK (see https://www.brc.ac.uk/plantatlas/plant/malva-alcea) and also here in Norway there are a number of observations, particularly around Oslo.
This summer, I’ve been using this mallow much more than before as I now have a lot of it and it has replaced moschata in a few places, suggesting that these may be hybrids! This really is one of the most useful perennial vegetables in the summer garden. Along with other mallows you can pick off leaves, young flower buds and flowers over an extended period! I use them in various stir-fry dishes, in soups, on pizza, in quiches and mixed salads!
It is surprisingly not often mentioned as edible in ethnobotanical studies (maybe underreported due to confusion with moschata?). However, a quick search revealed it being used traditionally in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria!
If I had written my book today, this may well have replaced moschata. I did mention alcea in the book under the account of moschata as follows:
I have less experience with Malva alcea, greater musk mallow, which is, as the English name suggests, a larger plant. It has a similar range to musk mallow, except that it isn’t found in the UK. I’ve only grown the form ‘Fastigiata’ which is long-lived and a nice ornamental, needing staking up during the summer. My plant was sterile and is
thought possibly to be a hybrid between M. alcea and M. moschata. The flowers are also good in salads.
Bees love it too!
Here are a few pictures of it in the garden today:
My annual vegetable beds are once again aglow with opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) flowers, my favourite annual edimentals. These are my favourite “weeds” that come up year after year. I’ve planted some 40 different varieties over the years, so there are many colours and flower forms! They need to be “weeded” in order that the individual plants are big! See my grand album of opium poppy pictures here: https://tinyurl.com/y6snlc4r
I collect the seed for using on bread (see the latter album and http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=3191) and other baked dishes!
However, great and blue tits compete with me for the seeds, see my blog post on my narcotits (narkomeis)! The flowers are almost certainly perfectly safe to eat raw, at least in small amounts and you’ll see the occasional flower in my salads.
Papaver somniferum is also one of the favourite plants for pollinating insects such as bumblebees, hoverflies etc., see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=12787!
Other poppy species have also been used traditionally for food and even the leaves of corn poppy (kornvalmue) are used in the Mediterranean countries (I remember seeing the leaves for sale in a market in Venice some years ago!
More about the uses of poppies from Cornucopia II. I grow all 3 in my garden here in Malvik!
Papaver somniferum – opium poppy (opiumvalmue). The seeds, called maw seeds in Europe and khas-khas in the Middle East, are widely used in breads, cakes, rolls, milky soups, rice dishes, stews, curries, saladdressings, and sweetmeats. When crushed and sweetened, they are used as a filling for crepes, strudels, pastries, etc. Poppy-seed oil is used like olive oil in French cooking, where it is known as olivette. A paste made from poppy-seed oil and roasted, ground poppy seed is widely used in Turkish cuisine.
Papaver orientale – oriental poppy (orientvalmue). Unripe capsules, though very acrid and hot in taste, are reportedly eaten as a delicacy. In Turkey, the seeds and flower parts are eaten.
Papaver rhoeas – Corn poppy (kornvalmue). Young leaves are cooked and seasoned like spinach, or used as a flavoring in soups and salads. A syrup prepared from the scarlet flower petals has been employed as an ingredient in soups and gruels. They also yield a red pigment used for coloring, especially wine. The seeds are used in cakes, breads, and rolls or pressed for their oil, an excellent substitute for olive oil.
A collection of pictures of my extreme salads from the last 20 years can be seen in the gallery below!
8th July 2019: The first 10! To be continued…..
I used to grow Oxalis triangularis, also known as the False Shamrock for the leaves and flowers. It’s also a perfect edimental house plant here as it likes cool indoor temperatures and struggles / goes dormant if it gets too warm.
I was given a couple of plants the other day, surplus to the plant sale at the botanical gardens. Repotting the plants yesterday, I noticed that there were quite a number of sizeable tubers and I had a taste for the first time. I was surprised how sweet they tasted!!
A year ago, I reported on variegation on a Hablitzia in my son’s garden on Nesodden near Oslo (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18162). I gave him this plant a few years ago and I really didn’t believe it would thrive here as the spot appeared very dry with poorish looking soil, but this year it’s clearly thriving and is sprawling in different directions (they plan to paint the house, so it’s not been trained up the wall). I discovered for the second year running that one of the shoots is variegated, similar to Mandy Barber‘s plant a couple of years ago reported on the Friends of Hablitzia forum on FB!
Has anyone had success (or not) with layering Hablitzia to propagate?
Previous posts on variegated Habbies here (on Facebook):
Dandelion time has come around again! This is the only dandelion field I can see from the house! Is this the most productive field in the area?
Hybrids can also occur in gardens. I’ve several strains in my garden from seed, including “Sunset Shades” and “Red Strain”. I also grow the earlier flowering subspecies macrocalyx with overlarge sepals.
I use small amounts of leaves and flowers to decorate spring salads and other dishes…an undispensable shade loving and hardy edimental!
I can go out into my garden and “forage” spring greens from anywhere in the temperate Northern Hemisphere! This week I foraged possibly the top two traditional spring greens of the Appalachian mountains, one of them, known as Sochan (so cha ni) by Native Americans, for the first time! Sochan has also now entered my all time top ten perennial vegetable list and would definitely have been in my book if I had discovered it before as it’s also a fantastic edimental! It is Rudbeckia laciniata, known as Cut-leaf (or Green-headed) coneflower or Golden Glow!
Here in Norway, the double-flowered cultivar “Hortensis” (also sold in the UK as “Golden Glow”) is a common ornamental known as “Gjerdesolhatt” or “Kyss meg over gjerdet” (Kiss me over the fence) reflecting on the fact that it’s often planted next to fences.
I’m not sure where I first heard of its edibility, but another Norwegian gardener sent me a plant 10 years ago and it’s since spread slowly where I placed it in a shady spot (sunny in spring before the leaves of an apple tree shade it out!):
It is well documented as probably the most important spring vegetable of the Cherokee in the Southern Appalachians in Moerman’s Native American Ethnobotany, which is probably where I first noted its edibility. It’s missed in Cornucopia II. The Cherokee ate the tender young leaves and stems cooked alone or with other greens such as poke (Phytolacca americana), Ramps (Allium tricoccum), Rumex spp. (docks) and eggs. They were also fried with fat and were also dried for later use and also eaten as a cooked spring salad or as celery (presumably raw). Unlike some other Native American veggies, this one doesn’t seem to have been adopted by the Europeans and remained a closely kept Cherokee secret!
I didn’t know of others who had eaten this plant and it wasn’t until I read Samuel Thayer’s glowing account of this plant (11 pages) in his gem of a book “Incredible Wild Edibles” (2017) that I was encouraged to give it a go! I also missed Mountain Gardener Joe Hollis’ video on this plant (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBJncaj1ZPM; also from 2017).
It is believed to have similar medicinal properties to closely related Echinacea (also known as coneflower).
I finally got round to trying it for the first time last week and, wow, I hadn’t expected it to taste that good, slightly sweet and aromatic similar to other Asteraceae like Korean Aster scaber. We served it with probably the No. 1 North Appalachian spring edible, Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris).
The RHS Plant Finder in the UK lists 12 different ornamental cultivars available from UK nurseries!
In Norway, this species has escaped from gardens and is established in som places, but is not considered to have an ecological risk (low risk on the national invasives list). It is very hardy. My double-flowered clone doesn’t seem to produce seed.
Grand Opening of The Edible Garden Permaculture LAND Centre
(Thanks to Berit Børte, Kjell Hødnebø, Lone Dybdal, Elin Mar, Bell Batta Torheim, Inger Line Skurdal Ødegård and Margaret M. Anderson for the pictures )
Sunday 5th May was a cold showery day here in Malvik and the 3rd day of KVANN’s (Norwegian Seed Savers) annual meeting weekend in Trondheim and Malvik. This was also the day of the official opening of my garden as a Permaculture LAND centre, which was celebrated by a primula ribbon cutting ceremony and the LAND multi-species salad (how many ingredients? See below!). Meg had decorated the gate for the occasion, now a permanent feature:
25 participants from all over Norway met in the garden at 10:30. Due to the weather, we moved inside where I gave an introduction to how the garden had developed into a permaculture Forest Garden despite the fact that I knew nothing of permaculture principles! The rain eased off, so we moved outside for a walk and talk around the garden with focus on the plants. The album below shows some of the plants we talked about:
I had got up at 6 am to pick the ingredients for the multi-species salad we made for lunch (all 146 ingredients) to celebrate the garden’s LAND status!
LAND: Learning And Network Demonstration network – a network of permaculture sites. Sites are set up to show permaculture in practice to visitors and volunteers in a safe, accessible and inspiring way. There are a number of requirements to receive LAND certification, one of which was that I had to have a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) which I took in 2017, sharing the teaching with Jan Bang (yes, I taught myself the plants part of the course!)
Before lunch, we had the official LAND opening ceremony for the Edible Garden, introduced by Eirik Lillebøe Wiken
of the Norwegian Permaculture Association,
See Berit’s FB video: https://www.facebook.com/beritboslo/videos/10219097282043751 followed by our living ribbon-cutting ceremony!
The ribbon had been expertly made by Meg Anderson from flower shoots of Primula hybrids (cowslip, primrose, oxlip / marianøkleblom, kusymre, hagenøkleblom) :-)
There was then a joint effort in my kitchen to put the salad together:
THE LAND SALAD (146 ingredients)
Alliaria petiolata; Flower Tops
Allium “Summer Beauty”
Allium cernuum “Pink Giant”
Allium cernuum x stellatum “Hammer”
Allium fistulosum “Gribovskiy 21”
Allium flavum “Blue Leaf”
Allium flavum “nana”
Allium hymenorhizum (var truncatifolium?)
Allium nutans “Caroline”
Allium nutans “Slizun”
Allium paradoxum var normale
Allium paradoxum var paradoxum
Allium sativum (garlic)
Allium schoenoprasum “Black Island Blush” ; Flower buds
Allium schoenoprasum “Black Island Blush” ; Leaves
Allium schoenoprasum #1
Allium schoenoprasum #2
Allium schoenoprasum #3
Allium schoenoprasum #4
Allium schoenoprasum #5
Allium schoenoprasum #6
Allium victorialis “Granvin”
Allium x cornutum
Allium x proliferum “Bergstua”
Allium x prolifrum “Amish Topset”
Arabis caucasica “Pink”
Artemisia dracunculus sativa “German”
Atriplex hortensis “Rubra”
Barbarea vulgaris variegata
Begonia heracleifolia; Flowers
Beta vulgaris flavescens “Swiss Chard”
Brassica napa “Turnip tops”
Brassica oleracea “Walsall Allotments perennial kale”
Brassica oleracea Perennial Kale #1
Brassica oleracea Perennial Kale #2
Brassica oleracea Perennial Kale #3
Brassica oleracea Perennial Kale #4
Brassica oleracea Perennial Kale #5
Brassica oleracea Perennial Kale #6
Brassica oleracea Perennial Kale #7
Brassica oleracea Perennial Kale #8
Brassica oleracea x (Bed 7) #1 sort
Brassica oleracea x (Bed 7) #2
Carum carvi (caraway)
Cichorium intybus #1
Cichorium intybus #2
Cichorium intybus #3
Cichorium intybus #4
Claytonia virginica; Flowers
Claytonia virginica; Leaves
Coriandrum sativum; Leaves
Hemerocallis dumortieri; Flower buds
Hosta sieboldiana Ex- Mira
Houttuynia cordata #1
Houttuynia cordata #2
Houttuynia cordata #3
Lunaria rediviva Flor
Olea europaea (oliven)
Origanum vulgare #1
Origanum vulgare #2
Origanum vulgare #3
Oxalis tuberosa “Oca”; Leaves
Primula veris Red
Primula x ; Flowers
Primula x ; Leaves
Rhododendron mucronulatum; Flowers
Ribes spp. #1; Flowers
Ribes spp. #2; Flowers
Rumex scutatus “Silver Shield”
Rumex acetosa Russian #1
Rumex acetosa Russian #2
Rumex acetosa Russian #3
Rumex acetosa Russian #4
Rumex acetosa Russian #5
Rumex acetosa Russian #6
Rumex acetosa ssp vinealis
Trillium erectum “Burgundy”
Trillium grandiflorum ’Pink’
Tulipa fosteriana purissisima; Flowers
Tulipa viridiflora “Esperanto”
Tulipa x gesneriana “Pilot” (syn Tulipa norvegica); Flowers
Viola hybrida “Yellow” ; Flowers
+ (not grown locally!):
Olea europaea (olive)