Once again a flower growing outside my front door. The Common Mallow Malvas sylvestris is not noticable until the flowers open. Then the bright red contrasts with the faily large green leaves.
A favourite of both slugs and snails and also the caterpillars of some moths and butterflies the leaves are often decimated with holes. When I was young we used to strip away the dead calyx from the seed pods and eat the seeds calling them Cheeses.
I suppose that today the Health and Safety 'wizards' would throw up their hands aghast at such behaviour.
However they never did us any harm and Lord only knows how many I ate.
Of mallows Culpeper says :--
Government and virtues.] Venus owns them both. The leaves of either of the sorts, both specified, and the roots also boiled in wine or water, or in broth with Parsley or Fennel roots, do help to open the body, and are very convenient in hot agues, or other distempers of the body, to apply the leaves so boiled warm to the belly. It not only voids hot, choleric, and other offensive humours, but eases the pains and torments of the belly coming thereby; and are therefore used in all clysters conducing to those purposes. The same used by nurses procures them store of milk. The decoction of the seed of any of the common Mallows made in milk or wine, doth marvellously help excoriations, the phthisic pleurisy, and other diseases of the chest and lungs, that proceed of hot causes, if it be continued taking for some time together. The leaves and roots work the same effects. They help much also in the excoriations of the bowels, and hardness of the mother, and in all hot and sharp diseases thereof. The juice drank in wine, or the decoction of them therein, do help women to a speedy and easy delivery. Pliny saith, that whosoever takes a spoonful of any of the Mallows, shall that day be free from all diseases that may come unto him; and that it is especially good for the falling-sickness. The syrup also and conserve made of the flowers, are very effectual for the same diseases, and to open the body, being costive. The leaves bruised, and laid to the eyes with a little honey, take away the imposthumations of them. The leaves bruised or rubbed upon any place stung with bees, wasps, or the like, presently take away the pain, redness, and swelling that rise thereupon. And Dioscorides saith, The decoction of the roots and leaves helps all sorts of poison, so as the poison be presently voided by vomit. A poultice made of the leaves boiled and bruised, with some bean or barley flower, and oil of Roses added, is an especial remedy against all hard tumours and inflammations, or imposthumes, or swellings of the privities, and other parts.
It seems that he praises the seeds when used and although we did not necessarily have pleurisy or ecoriations we used to enjoy eating them. Also brings back the memories of 'Bread and Cheese' as we used to call the first green leaf sprays of the hawthorn that we plucked from the bushes and ate on our way to school as infants.