Gallant Soldier (Galinsoga parviflora)

Gallant Soldier (Galinsoga parviflora) is known as ‘Mwamuna aligone’ in Malawi (or ‘the husband is sleeping’). We have heard several different theories regarding the origin of this name, one being that the husband is sleeping while the wife is cooking, another being that because the husband was sleeping the wife harvested local vegetables instead of going to the market to buy them (a sensible choice).

Either way, this highly-nutritious edible vegetable is extremely prolific and easily grows throughout the country. It can be found in fields, near the foundations of structures, and along roadsides. It is a great source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. In Columbia, the plant is known as Guascas and is sold in markets as a dried herb, or used in a soup called ajiaco.

The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like other green vegetables. The taste is quite strong, with an earthy, almost mineral-like or umami flavor. It will quickly dominate the flavor of soups or stews, so start small and you can always add more if you like it.

A study done in South Africa showed that this plant also contains medicinal properties which helps to prevent hypertension (high blood pressure), and improved the blood flow which helps to reduce cardiovascular problems.

Don’t overlook this locally-available and free source of nutrition. You probably have it growing near you and may not have even known!

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