• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Ash Jackson
  • Kate Downham

Checkermallow – A great native PNW perennial vegetable

 
gardener
Posts: 2123
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
944
hugelkultur kids forest garden fungi trees books bike homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


Have you ever grown Henderson’s checkermallow (Sidalcea hendersonii)? Or rose checkermallow (Sidalcea malviflora )? These are 2 really great native vegetables for the Pacific Northwest!

This week’s blog post—Checkermallows – An Easy-to-Grow, Perennial PNW Native Vegetable—dives into these 2 great native vegetables.

And if you don’t live in the PNW of the United States don’t worry—both of these can be used as perennial veggies in other areas.

Plus there are over 20 different species of checkermallows found up and down western North America. And while I don’t know for sure based on my research I suspect that all of them are edible. But of course double check before you decide to harvest any new plant!

Let’s dive into why these are great native vegetables!

All About Checkermallows



I just love these flowers—they’re so beautiful! Especially when planted in a large clump. Plus, the pollinators just love them. They’re always being visited by bumblebees, butterflies and honeybees.

Here in their native range there is even a specialist native bee that only pollinates checkermallows and there are a couple endangered butterflies that also use them.

They really are fantastic plants for wildlife!

But beyond that the 2 I highlight in the blog post—Henderson’s and rose checkermallows—are also very tasty!

The laves can be harvested big or small from spring until they start going dormant in the fall.

The leaves have a very mild flavor and are a little fuzzy but despite the fuzziness they’re great raw in salads, on sandwiches, wraps, etc. But they can also be used for cooking in any recipe that would call for mild greens like chard or spinach.

Just be aware that the leaves will thicken soups a bit.

You can also use the flowers as a garnish in salads or for other dishes.

Henderson’s checkermallow and rose checkermallow both grow in sunny spots but rose is much more drought tolerant while Henderson’s likes the soil to stay a bit more moist. But here in western WA with a good mulch layer they both thrive!

Henderson’s grows from northwestern Oregon all the way up to southern Alaska while rose tends to grow from southwest Washington down to southern California.

Getting Started with Checkermallows



I’ve planted most of my checkermallows in my food forests. They provide a great easy to harvest supply of mild leafy greens all spring, summer and into the fall.

But I’ve planted a few in my kitchen garden and I plan to add more later. Rose checkermallow is better for this since it’s a bit smaller than Henderson’s checkermallow.

But really you can plant these anywhere you would plant flowers. Just give the checkermallows about 2 feet of space to grow into.

And then just harvest and enjoy a very easy perennial green that is also supporting pollinators and other local wildlife!

Don’t forget to check out the blog post which dives further into both of these great perennial greens. And let me know what you think about checkermallows!

While you are over on the blog most make sure to leave a comment! If you are the first to do so you will get a piece of pie! The pie will get you access to some special features on perimes, discounts at some vendors, and you can use it to purchase some products on the permies digital marketplace.

If you leave a comment on the blog post make sure to leave a post here on permies too so I can easily give you the slice of pie.
 
gardener
Posts: 3038
274
forest garden fungi trees books food preservation bike
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
These are great plants. I'm not sure which one I'm growing, but it is tasty, abundant and attracts pollinators. Beautiful too. I love them.  A regular part of my diet.

I had never heard of these for the first 12 years of my gardening passion.  I'm glad someone showed me.

John S
PDX OR
 
pollinator
Posts: 776
166
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Super interesting, I have a native that grows in our yard that we eat that I was told was called "checker bloom" and that appears to be a mallow. But its not that plant, and a quick google search for "checker bloom" or " California checker bloom" doesn't turn up anything that looks like my plant. My interest is sparked, but based on your description, Darren, it sounds like the same plant family as it has the same general growth habits and uses, just different shaped leaves (not heavily lobed) and much less flashy flowers.
 
Daron Williams
gardener
Posts: 2123
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
944
hugelkultur kids forest garden fungi trees books bike homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John Suavecito wrote:These are great plants. I'm not sure which one I'm growing, but it is tasty, abundant and attracts pollinators. Beautiful too. I love them.  A regular part of my diet.

I had never heard of these for the first 12 years of my gardening passion.  I'm glad someone showed me.

John S
PDX OR



Yeah, I only learned about them when I found a native plant nursery that focuses on edibles. Despite gardening my whole life I had never heard of them. lol, ever since then I feel like I'm going down the rabbit hole exploring all the great native vegetables that are out there. Plants for a Future has quickly become one of my favorite sites--I'm always amazed how many times I look up a plant on there and find out that it's edible. Fun to explore all the options out there.

Thanks for sharing! I just ordered some seeds for meadow checkermalllow (Sidalcea campestris). It looks very similar to Henderson's but it's flowers are very light pink or even white. It might grow a bit taller though I'm not sure--sounds like it can get up to 6 feet tall which would be fun! It's also very rare in the wild and apparently historically had a small range. I'm excited to give it a go as my third checkermallow! Sounds like it's easy to grow as long as it gets full sun.
 
Daron Williams
gardener
Posts: 2123
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
944
hugelkultur kids forest garden fungi trees books bike homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

s. lowe wrote:Super interesting, I have a native that grows in our yard that we eat that I was told was called "checker bloom" and that appears to be a mallow. But its not that plant, and a quick google search for "checker bloom" or " California checker bloom" doesn't turn up anything that looks like my plant. My interest is sparked, but based on your description, Darren, it sounds like the same plant family as it has the same general growth habits and uses, just different shaped leaves (not heavily lobed) and much less flashy flowers.



Interesting, yeah there are a lot of plants that seem similar in that family. Apparently the family that checkermallows are in include a wide range of important crops including okra and cotton! And linden trees are also in the same family and also have edible leaves. Some day I want to explore this family (Malvaceae) of plants more to see what other good edible plants might be mixed in it. Lots already discovered but some like checkermallows don't seem very well known.
 
s. lowe
pollinator
Posts: 776
166
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So what I have and have been eating is apparently often called button weed, cheese plant, or common mallow

https://medium.com/@pullupyourplants/pull-up-your-plants-mallow-e1ef51ac8c13

Also, its not a native, but an invasive European weed. Now I wonder if I have confused the plant I was originally shown with the one I keep finding in my yard or if the fella who showed me the "checker bloom" was mistaken about its origin. Tasty leaves either way
 
Daron Williams
gardener
Posts: 2123
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
944
hugelkultur kids forest garden fungi trees books bike homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for sharing! Now I'm curious if that plant is growing anywhere around my place... time to explore!
 
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am starting my second food forest at a different location with just a street strip as my forest but Henderson’s checkermallow is going to be in my little forest. Can’t wait. Thank you for posting!
 
Mo-om! You're embarassing me! Can you just read a tiny ad like a normal person?
Call for Instructors for the 2021 RMH Jamboree!
https://permies.com/wiki/149908/Call-Instructors-RMH-Jamboree
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic