Musk Mallow

2016 December 10

These big, pinkish-purple flowers were blooming alongside the road on June 29, 2016.


The blossoms grow in a cluster at the end of the stalk.


The whole plant is about 1-2 feet tall, and the leaves are very thin, palmate compound leaves.



I actually couldn’t find it directly using a Google search, which I thought was odd, but it might be just because there are so very many pinkish-purple flower pictures online that the image search was just overwhelmed. But, eventially I stumbled across this handy Wildflower identification tool. I didn’t have high hopes for this, because normally these sorts of tools end up asking a bunch of questions where it isn’t quite clear what to say, and giving me something wildly erroneous[1]. But in this case, I just entered in the relevant characteristics, and the right ID popped right up!

So, it turns out to be a Musk Mallow, Malva moschata. These were originally imported from Europe as an ornamental plant, and have since gone a bit feral. Luckily, they only produce a moderate number of seeds, and don’t seem to be aggressively invasive. And, it turns out that the flowers, leaves, and seeds are all edible, and are supposed to make a nice ingredient in salads. Now, I don’t know how tasty or nutritious they might be, but at least eating them won’t kill you.

[1] The last time I used one of these sorts of tools, I was trying to identify a spider, and it told me it was a Brown Recluse. And then I found that, no matter what I told it, it *always* said my spider was a Brown Recluse. I think that tool has since been removed, fortunately.

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