EFN INTRODUCTION. Musk Mallow is a super nutritious, easy to grow, versatile perennial leaf crop – maybe the closest thing we have to a perennial lettuce substitute. The flowers (in bloom from spring to fall!) are also edible, and quite beautiful too. Bees and other beneficial insects love it. The leaves are rather fascinating in form too: the first ones, which become the lowest leaves on the plant, are round and resemble other mallow leaves, but they gradually morph as the plant grows, and eventually the upper leaves look nothing like the lower leaves. They much more resemble certain geranium leaves (and, come to think of it, the flowers resemble some geranium flowers too). Both the slightly mucilaginous leaves and flowers are eaten raw or cooked, and the seeds are edible too. The plant also has a long history of medicinal use, said to be useful against inflammation, insect bites, bruises, fevers, and urinary and digestive issues. It can be used as an expectorant and a laxative as well. Native to Eurasia, it has become quite common here and has naturalized in other temperate climates around the world.
The seeds we're selling come from EFN co-founder Nate Kleinman's farm in Chenango County, New York, on the side of Tinker Ridge. Very pretty volunteers, some sporting pink flowers, others white, showed up in a few spots on freshly tilled ground in 2020. The species appears nowhere else in the area, so we can only assume the seeds were sitting in the weed bank underground for years – likely many decades – waiting to burst forth once the lawn was ripped up. The seeds are apparently incredibly hardy: one company selling them offers 22-year-old seed right now with a recent germination test of 99%! Pretty mind-boggling. It's possible these seeds have some dormancy issues – they didn't readily sprout for us in the germination chamber – so they may benefit from prolonged soaking or cold moist stratification. We're selling these as botanical samples for that reason. Be patient with them, and your reward could be a lifetime of beautiful flowers, herbal medicine, and delicious, nutritious greens!