If you were wondering what the color mauve looks like, exactly, it's the color of French mallows. We know that because this flower, mauve des bois, gave the color its name.

The flower has many other names, the oddest of which is cheeseweed, inspired by the tightly packed configuration of its seed heads that makes them look like miniature cheese wheels. All the parts of the plant are edible, and this is fortunate, considering how prolific mallow is in producing offspring. Its little cheeses can populate a flowerbed in one season, so if you have the patience, you're better off picking and serving them as a snack, they have a pleasant nutty taste. This is easier said than done, because they hold on to the mother plant with a mighty grip right until the point when they disintegrate and spread far and wide all over the ground underneath.

Some ethnic cuisines use mallow leaves extensively, either cooked or raw, in the same manner in which cabbage or grape leaves are used, even though mallow becomes mucilaginous, like okra, when exposed to heat, not the most palatable quality.

Mallow is unrelenting, I only planted it once and I'm still plucking it out of the lawn seven years later. It is pretty enough and has the distinct advantage of blooming at the end of summer, just when the other perennials are wrapping up for the season. This is why I don't mind its sprawling habit and look the other way when one of its eager sprouts asserts itself in the middle of the just cleared flower bed in spring.

The plants are biennials but if the warm season is long enough, they'll bloom at the end of it. This is what mine are doing, a good thing, because I didn't notice any of them overwintering.

Believe me, those little cheeses mean business, you can't get in front of their prolific propagation habit and more than enough seeds will escape your scrutiny to ensure progeny the following year. It is, after all, considered a weed.

In my garden the best performers are mallows, goldenrod and bee balms, all of which can be considered weeds, depending on the gardening sensibility, I just have to wonder what that says about me.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”; "Letters to Lelia", "Door No. 8", "Fair"; "A Year and A Day"; "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born this way: allyeargarden.com and theweeklygardener.com, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might find it useful in their own gardening practice.