BAGHDAD, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- With rain spreading across Iraq, mallow growing in northern and eastern parts of the country gives poor people the food to eat and sell.
Mallow, or Malva pusilla, is a cosmopolitan weed found principally in temperate regions of the world. It is a fast-growing annual or perennial herb with the capacity to grow forming dense patches in gardens, yards, roadsides, waste ground, orchards, pastures and agricultural fields.
It grows without the interference of any assistance. Therefore, it is called "food of the poor." It is easily harvested and grows naturally without any care or attention. It is also delicious and healthy.
Thanks to the heavy rain in Iraq, this year mallows spread and were found for collectors to harvest in winter, without any good attention of farmers.
Some of the poor families collect mallows, and sell them to the others, due to its medical value as it is used to treat some sicknesses and to strengthen immunity.
Haydar Sattar, a member of the local council in Eastern Baquba, told Xinhua that "mallows spread tremendously this winder. It reminds me of Iraq long times ago."
"Some valleys, close to my hometown of Mandli, 90 km east of Baquba, are now termed valleys of mallow due to the spread of the weed," he said.
Arkan al-Nadawi, a local villager, said that "Mallow spread this year in wheat and barley fields, and in most of the fields of northern and eastern regions."
"Mallow tastes great and most of the people in villages and countryside love it, and it is the dish of the poor," he added.
Monshed al-Zaidy, a government employee, who was standing close to a road in the village of Gazania, 96 km east of Baquba, was helping his wife to harvest mallows and keep it in a plastic bag.
"Harvesting mallows rings a bell. It reminds me of the good old days when my family and I lived in a village. It is a traditional food to eat but it has some special memories to me when I was a child," he said.
In Salahudin province in northeastern Iraq, on the road leading to Tikrit, the province capital near Kirkuk, there were several families harvesting mallow. Some were planning to sell the harvest.
Some of the elderly, suffering from chronic disease, such as diabetes and blood pressure, seek mallows as the best food for their medical cases.
Dawood Ghanem, 55, a farmer, said mallow this year flourished in Iraq, thanks to the heavy rains and marvelous weather.
"People living in the cities, specially the poor ones, come for visits to the villages and harvest mallow for food," he said.
Eissa Kamel Abu Abbas, a grocer in Baquba market, said many families collect mallows and bring it to us. "We resell it at 750 dinars (0.63 U.S. dollars) per kilogram."