Saturday, April 09, 2016

Hollyhocks are Edible

Hollyhocks are Edible
Hollyhock and French Sage, © B. Radisavljevic
Hollyhocks, besides being beautiful, are edible. I just learned that today. They are related to the mallow plant, which I've been eating for many years. When I first planted my hollyhock seeds here, I wasn't sure when they came up if they were hollyhocks or not, since the leaves looked so much like those of the common mallow, an edible weed. The seedlings had to get about a foot tall before I was sure they weren't mallow. The hollyhock is officially known by botanists as Malvaceae althaea rosea. 

I already knew that hollyhocks are drought resistant and can grow, if not thrive, in poor soilThe painted lady butterflies also love to visit them. So far I haven't seen them visit mine, but I only have a couple of plants. I'd love to have a group of tall ones such as the ones next to this elderberry tree at the now closed Fat Cat Herb Farm.

Hollyhocks are Edible
Hollyhocks and Elderberry Tree at Fat Cat Farm, © B. Radisavljevic


I loved that place, and almost cried when it closed. I had been patronizing first Sycamore Farms and then Fat Cat Farm to buy my organically grown herbs for twenty years. Fortunately I can now multiple most of the herbs I purchased from them with  cuttings and root divisions.

I don't know why it surprised me so much today to learn that I could eat hollyhocks in the same way I eat mallow. I understand the leaves are a bit tougher in salads, but that could probably be fixed by massaging them as demonstrated in this video. I now do this for kale and chard and any other tough green. The only downside I see in eating hollyhock leaves raw is that the leaves, unlike the smoother mallow leaves, have a fuzzy surface.  I tried part of one this morning.



My research indicates that all parts of the hollyhock are edible -- leaves, flowers stems, roots, and seeds. Since I just learned this today, I'm not offering recipes just yet. Stay tuned. Since I use mallow leaves in soups, I would for sure use hollyhock leaves the same way. I'm not sure yet if they thicken soups and stews the way mallow leaves do.


I am now planning to grow more hollyhocks and pay more attention to them. My goal is to have as many edible flowers as possible. The hollyhock below is in very poor soil and doesn't get much water. Still it blooms and came back this year. The purple flowers you see in the background are French sage.


Hollyhocks are Edible
Hollyhock and French Sage, © B. Radisavljevic


The pink hollyhock below grows in my front flowerbed. Even though I did not cut it back to the ground last year, it is budding again. This was a shy flower, hiding behind the leaves.

Hollyhocks are Edible
Shy Pink Hollyhock, © B. Radisavljevic


If you plan to eat your hollyhocks, I suggest you get organic hollyhock seeds. If you click through, you will see many beautiful varieties. I also have this book on my wish list, since I want to know which flowers are and aren't edible. This is one subject about which I want to learn all I can. You can click the book cover to get more information about it.

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Hollyhocks are Edible

This is my eighth post for the 2016 AtoZchallenge, a Blogging Challenge for the month of April, 2016. My theme is plants, since this is a gardening blog.  Here are links to the other posts if you missed them.

A is for Apple Blossoms
B is for Bottlebrush
C is for Carnations
D is for Daisy

E is for Elderberry
F is for Flowers
G is for Gazania
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