Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Demulcent Summer: Mallow

In the hazy, heavy heat of the summer, the Rose of Sharon bursts into ecstatic bloom. Her timing speaks of slippery pleasure and arrival ... the climax of summer's landscape. She retains nothing out of shame or modesty. She pushes into visibility the eye-opening beauty of the feminine divine. Her profuse and large flowers pour over the greenery in tidal waves of pink-cranberry-white-green-pink. Each petal boasts a crisp, cool, slippery texture, resembling the soft supple skin of sacred human kissing spots. Her fleshy presence a dichotomy of uncomfortable summer arousal and cooling satisfaction. The bees are quite literally dizzy with pollen and nectar; the entire tree humming with hundreds of honey bees. In order to reach the sweet nectar they must labor themselves deep into the flower by pushing their hind legs against the sides while burying their heads deep into the middle. Her flowers come in stages, each day opening a new cluster and each evening closing at dusk and dropping finished blooms with a soft thud on the rock path. Her littering of spent petals an offering to her own soil for next years cycle.
It's no mystery why Mother Nature blossoms this beauty right now. The Rose of Sharon is perhaps the largest of the Mallow (Malvaceae) family, providing ample mucilage to us hot humans. The cooling flowers are truly delicious, and a beautiful addition to a wild salad. Crushed, the flowers can quickly soothe an over heated face while gardening, or ease an itching rash or insect bite. A strong infusion (cool water, please!) will coat all of your insides with slippery healing, a perfect remedy for hot digestion, IBS, UTI, ulcers, and hot tempered summer folk. (think: Pitta)
Mallow in tandem with Red Clover would be a most wonderful fertility combination, fortifying the lining of the uterus in preparation for implantation of sperm. Mallow also gives sheen to our skin by increasing suppleness and hydration, and because of it's lovely mild flavor, an easy one to share with children. And exceptional sore throat remedy, combine with some prebrewed Echinacea root infusion and your sore throat will vanish in no time flat.

Rose of Sharon's flowers are the plant part I use, and of other Mallows I believe you can use the leaves as well and of course there is Marsh Mallow root - of which I have not grown or wildcrafted (yet!). I use them (the Rose of Sharon flowers) generously ... as a nutritive plant you really can't use too much unless your natural constitution is already too cold and wet. (think: Kapha) But even those types can stand some Mallow in the heat of the summer.

Hibiscus is a particularly delicious (a fruity-sour taste) and very cooling (some consider it a refrigerant, energetically) Mallow species. The flowers are used in the classic "Red Zinger" tea by Celestial Seasonings, and in many other citrus flavor teas on the market. If you grow your own, you have to bring it inside during the winter months, but she's a patio pleaser in the summer time - that is, if you don't eat all the flowers.

Rose of Sharon's equal directions of upwards and downwards growing patters remind me that her moving energy is mostly neutral, perhaps adaptive; not too stimulating or sedative, but rather "even keel". This is how I feel when I eat and drink of her medicine. And similar to the Rose genus, she feels like a heart soother; emotionally healing and uplifting but without illusion. A gift of Nature indeed.

Speaking of gifts, the Wineberries are ripe and very plump this year, keeping the kids happily picking bowl fulls each day.

And the Wormwood got so tall it began to fall over on itself .... so I harvested plenty and made a long smudge wand for my friend's Lodge.

mmmmm, the smell.
Some wild teas for my women's circle....

My hobby on the side, inspired by my daughter who crochets far better, but less often, than I. These special medicine pouches will probably go to the Red Tent Temple Artisan Fundraiser, coming soon.
Oh yes. And my beloved Catnip, the Don Juan of Cats. I go to him for vibrational healing .... he has the most incredible purr.


Anonymous said...

mmmm... what a sensual, juicy post! i didn't know hibiscus was a mallow... that makes perfect sense, though. what a major "AH-HA!" (;

Yarrow said...

oooohhhh! I agree with kitchewitch on that one. so sensual and juicy. I didn't know that Rose of Sharon could used medicinally. How did I miss THAT?! Thanks for the beautiful post. Blessings.

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

That mallow looks a lot like my okra flowers. They must be related...

The Plant Whisperer said...

Thanks for the nice comments!

Hunter.... what do you know! Okra is in the Mallow family! not surprising noting it's very slippery texture.

Brigitte said...

What gorgeous pictures!
Wished I could make some shoots, but we still have winter in New Zealand... isn't this thought alone cooling for you?

Must be funny when you all try to get a shady place :-)