Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Malva crispa--Curled Mallow and Ladies

Butterfly walk today at the UC Botanical Garden. We saw mostly Mylitta crescents. But then I noticed some lady damage on this mallow in the herb garden. THEN, I saw the lady caterpillars. Could be West Coast Ladies, could be painted. Either way, there were at least five larvae on the plant, with very little fresh foliage left. I hope they do okay.

Curled Mallow was domesticated in Asia over 2,000 years ago. Like other mallows, it is eatable and has been used for human food. It can be cooked or eaten fresh, like in a salad. It is good for relieving constipation. It is also used to treat gastritis and coughs. Topical treatments can be used to soften skin or reduce the irritation of insect bites.

The leaves on this plant have mostly gone to support the insect population, but in the pictures I found online, the leaves are super curled and super cute. Maybe I'll try to find some seeds to grow this in my garden.

1 comment:

Jeffrey said...

I wonder if you learned which species of lady caterpillars liked the curled mallow -- and if you are continuing to see it utilized.