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!
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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.