Posts Tagged Mallow

Hudson View: “Usher Ulalume”

Hudson View: “Usher Ulalume” . . .

Mallow, Malvaceae
(NYC 10 2019)

The morning commute made in mist, the grey above and down to the ground drawing all its fire into tree leaves gone gold to red. The lower edges remain green for the last in the return of the damp season switched on following after the dry bluebird skies of August and September.

Dew on the rejuvenated grass sports oak, beech, and elm leaves. The locust trees add a crown of yellow as gold as ripe corn. The gold coins of the ginko are to follow, later, into Thanksgiving.

The scene now on the ground with turf and leaf are fungi. Large mushrooms stand confident in the muted morning light.

Vigorous Fungus
(NYC 10 2019)

October brought to you by the letter M? Add the Mallow, the cheeseplant, Malvaceae, continues to bear its gorgeous pale stripes. Find the flowers nestled beneath the spread of clustered leaves held by long petioles.

City never silent still during some stretches blends into a symphonic whole rather than chaotic scramble. By the fence, in the park, the sound of the hardball hitting the grass, often heard here, ceased after the Yankees bowed out in early October. The same sound now drops when the fruit of the Osage Orange, Maclura pomifera, lands in the grass.

Colloquial: “Monkeyball”
(10 30 2019)

The view beyond, the shallow fjord of the Hudson, presents like a line from “Ulalume” or the grounds of Usher as documented in description by Edgar A. Poe.

Hudson View: Usher Ulalume
(NYC 10 2019)

— rPs 10 30 2019

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Still Life Set in a Cityscape

Still Life Set in a Cityscape . . .

Butter & Eggs by the Stump

Butter & Eggs by the Stump

The City Still Life, continued: Ideas or Ideals?

October brings a new, almost kinetic view: warmer colors spread in the foreground as the backdrop of sky, like the temperature, reflects colder hues. Bright, or subdued, autumn’s more visible variety can shift one’s attention and shape it toward color composition. Hikes along a river lined by trees showing ever less chlorophyll have fueled thinkers too numerous to list anywhere but in some form of comprehensive Encyclopedia Autumnus.

One subject: The City Still Life, con Flores, im Herbst (“with flowers, in Autumn”) often pops up besides the trees that can no longer leaf. The stump, the rooted gravestone of a neighborhood tree, low to the ground, overlooked, left alone, or still in line to be removed, centers a wild space that may be encircled by plantains beaded by rain, nightshades gathered in miniature copses, or scatterings of less dispersed species:

Chicory, Chicorium intybus

Chicory in October

Chicory in October

Mallow, Malva neglecta

Mallow in October

Mallow in October

Yellow Toadflax (Butter & Eggs), Linaria vulgaris

Yellow Toadflax in October

Yellow Toadflax in October

Conscious tree cutting and removal always depresses me, more for the fact the tree cannot be left to compost where it comes to lay. A green space more sustained by itself by letting it be would better reflect its organic natural history. Spaces may be shaped, that is understandable. May it also be comprehended that a city park curated as a rotating clean slate may not be ideal when applied in a universal, as in monolithic, manner? Stumps add character and the distinctive wild space equivalent of a still life set in a greater landscape, or cityscape.

– rPs 10 07 2014

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Mallow Be Thy Name

Mallow Be Thy Name . . .

Mallow, Malva parviflora, blooms along the busy strip of Hudson Street near the Meatpacking District. (photo taken 06 11 2011)

Color is the central organizing principle of wildflower study. There are a variety of plant structures essential to plant identification. Texture of stem, shape of leaf, and size of seed are all useful. Pause here, though, and look to the far right at the “Categories” section. Open a field guide or three as well. Color is key. Originality is highly desirable, a goal for which to strive, yet I can think of no naturalist, amateur or professional, who first asks: “Do the leaves alternate on the stem?” A flower’s color is a plant’s primary visual element. They are called wildflowers, not wild stems or wild leaves, for this reason.

Human nature, the nature of the universe, or both cause complexity to branch out before one can even move beyond the fundamental of color. Beyond the basic primary spectrum resides the subtlety of shades and hues. Phrases like “light blue” and “greenish orange” convey the basic point of appearance, yet there are times when a single precise vocabulary word would be better.

Take for example the color purple; a theme that has emerged in my outdoor observations during this month of June. There are numerous variations. One became the name of a classic rock band: Deep Purple. Some plants are so distinct and singular that their names have become synonymous with a specific shade: lavender, lilac, and violet.

Turning to foreign tongues, the French coined the term for a shade of pale purple endemic to a specie of wildflower I recently found growing, and blooming, in the West Village near the corner of Hudson and Gansevoort. The French term is “malva” – a pale purple known in the English as mauve.

Malva parviflora, known also as cheeseweed or marshmallow, is an herbaceous perennial immigrant from Europe and North Africa. The plant resembles a low creeper like ground ivy or deadnettle. The leaves are alternate, lobed, and scalloped like a cultivated geranium. The blossoms cluster in small groups beneath the leaves in a manner familiar to those who have grown zucchini or melons. The flowers consist of five white petals striped with mauve ridges. The flowers look like miniature versions of their tall, vertical, domesticated relative, the hollyhock.

Mauve on Hudson Street: The unique shade of purple found in the mallow plant's blossom inspired the French word "malva". (photo taken 06 11 2011)

The mallow, a member of the family Malvaceae, has some use as an herb (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant) and also makes a fine ground cover in garden corners. On a personal level, Malva parviflora gave me a good artist’s exercise in describing that most fundamental of visual concepts –


 – rPs 06 27 2011

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