AUGUST:  We have just returned from Spain and provide here a glimpse of what we are doing with Spanish Medicine a new addition to our Herbal Odyssey CD Rom.  Now you can see how similar species of plants are used in several cultures. Cooking tip:  use large leaves like grape leaves, blanch them, wrap them around rice and cooked shellfish, season, steam and serve.
The Malva to the left was filmed in our Michigan garden.  Malvas have been food and medicine for thousands of years.  The people of the Pyrenees (Spain) use this plant much the same way their ancestors did.  Here's a sample.

SPANISH MEDICINE: Malva sylvestris L.   Spanish:  malva; Catalan: malva; Basque: zigi...Family Malvaceae has edible leaves and flowers, a tough, fibrous root when stripped of its bark (for teething).  I like to wrap the leaves around food stuffs the same way grape leaves are used.  Par boil the leaves, wrap them around cooked crab or the like, steam until hot, serve.  

Chemistry: Flowers are bland but bioflavonoid rcih including malvina and the anthocyanoside malvidina, also contains tannins and mucilage.  

The root is very fibrous, woody.  The root skin is bitter, with the root skin removed the root is more palatable to a teething baby.

Malva found in Nuria, Spain.  Seventy miles north of Barcelona in the Pyrenees.

Tip:  Flower petals may be mixed in with salads.

Use the leaves and flowers in infusion (tea).  They are considered anti allergic.  They may improve circulation to distal areas of the body: brain, hands, feet.  A fist full of fresh flowers with an equal amount of leaves infused into 12 ounces of water just off the boil.

From 800AD there are documented food uses of this plant in Spain.  Medicinally it use predates Dioscorides.  This is a plant that belongs in everyone's garden.  It is a favorite wild food of the long lived Hunza people.

The leaves and flowers as food are soothing to the digestive system an intestinal emollient, mildly laxative and diuretic.  Mucilage in the leaves and flowers suggest they would be excellent skin softeners in a bath.  As a tea, a mild and suitable laxative for children.  Tea may be effective against coughs due to allergies, bronchitis, colds.  Tea and fluid extracts may be anti inflammatory.  Folk practitioner's in the Pyrenees use the root stripped of its skin as a chew for babies having difficult teething.

Extractions:  infusion, fluid extract, maceration (for emollient application to skin). Root (stripped of skin) as a chew.

More edible plants of the months.