Tuesday, 15 April 2014

M is for Marshes, Marsh Mallow, Marsh Samphire, Mudflats ...


Marshes differ depending mainly on their location and salinity.  


Salt Marsh, Scotland
Both of these factors greatly influence the range and scope of animal and plant life that can survive and reproduce in these environments. 



South West Coastal Path;
Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve:
here you can see a Spit, tidal
marshes and muddy mudflats
The three main types of Marsh:

      
a (fresh water) water-logged area round a pond or lake;


     Salt Marsh ... these are located close enough to the shoreline that the motion of tides affects them, and sporadically, they are covered with sea-water. 


Marsh Mallow
    



 Fresh Water Tidal Marshes ... need the stresses of salinity, which give tidal marshes a greater diversity of plant and animal life that live and use this type of environment.



M is for Marsh Mallow, related to the Mallow.  Marsh-Mallow confectionery was once made from its dried, powdered roots, found in the salt-marshes of the Thames Estuary, then taken to London for sale.



Samphire
M is for Marsh Samphire ... many species of which grow on bare mud in salt marshes ... it used to be burnt, like salt-wort, to produce soda ... used in the production of soap and glass. 


As we now know it is a favourite of chefs ... Rock Samphire is another genus ... and they may be muddled ... see Wiki for some interesting snippets ... literary, herbal, culinary ...




Conurbations are in red, Essex county is at the north,
the Thames Estuary and large blue River Thames,
the Hoo Peninsula, Kent - 'the green proboscis';
the Medway 'square estuary' with its
many islands - now quite silted up

M is for Muddy Medway ... I’m not really mentioning specific places in these coastal posts ... but Jo on Food, My Travels and a Scent of Chocolate spent her early years here ... so M for muddy Medway fits nicely!




Pod Razors
live in
sandbanks
and mud flats




Mudflats provide protection and essential nutrients to many species of algae, shellfish, worms, crustaceans and plenty of birds, who come to feed ...


 
Upnor Lower Medway




Yet the Medway area was the major centre and through-route into London and beyond, Henry VIII’s warship dockyards ... the less silted up not so muddy coastline essential in those early days of occupation ...




Red Knot one of the many
marsh/muddy shoreline birds
Culturally there are many authors, artists, travellers, entrepreneurs who have been influenced by their time near the mudflats of the Medway:  Dickens, Darwin, Joseph Conrad describes the view up the Medway from the Thames Estuary in The Mirror on the Sea ...


... while the Medway’s ‘marriage’ to the Thames is given extensive treatment by Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene ...



That is M for Marshes - mulchy Marshes, marine, sweet mellow Marsh Mallow, aromatic Marsh Samphire, Muddy squelchy Medway with its Mudflats ... from Aspects of British Coasts ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


32 comments:

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

The Mudway :) that's just down the road from us. My husband used to work in an office that looked out over it until they moved to Maidstone. Used to live down on the Kent/Sussex board as a child, right next to Romney Marsh - they breed good sheep down there :). And I always wondered why Marshmallows were called that, I didn't know they used to be made from parts of the plant.
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings - AtoZ (Vampires)
FB3X - AtoZ (Erotic Drabbles)

Bob Scotney said...

"Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea…" - Marshes always link to Great Expectations for me.

Sophie Duncan said...

As my sis, Natasha, says, 'The Mudway' is just down the road from us - she got here before me, so she's mentioned Romney Marsh as well, which used to be sea and was reclaimed round the time of Henry VIII, I believe! I had heard of the Marsh Mallow, but didn't know that and the sweet were directly related.
Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

Manzanita said...

Just about everything in your M category, is new to me. I feel like I've been asleep most of my life but now I'm awake.
Have a happy M day.

Tina said...

I love marches. As an 8th and 9th grader we went on some really neat field trips where we got to wear those big wading boots that come to your thighs and explore, gathering plants and creatures for further study.
I had no idea marshmallows actually had REAL ingredients in them - thought they were just sugar.
I ALWAYS learn something here - it's why it's one of my favorite blogs.
Tina @ Life is Good
A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

mail4rosey said...

Every single thing in nature has a purpose for some other thing in nature. That always amazes me, and I'm getting too old to be amazed. :)

Jo said...

Thanks for the shout out Hilary. In fact the Mudway is much cleaner today and it is another place where the fish are returning. Hoo is where we lived for a number of years, just downriver from Upnor, which has a castle as I mentioned to you a couple of years ago. The docks on the Medway is where Nelson's Victory was built although today the docks are closed.

Karen Lange said...

I remember doing a study about marshes with my children years ago. We lived down the road from a salt marsh at the time. There's much more to them than meets the eye, as you've illustrated here. I had no idea they played such an important role in the ecosystem. Thanks for all the wonderful facts and tidbits. You always educate me and give me something to think about. :)

Have a great week!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I never knew the origins of Marsh Mallows - thanks!

Lenny Lee* said...

hi grandblogmom!

"mud, mud, glorious mud!" im surprised no hippos have found their way to all that mud. for sure theyed be happy hippos.

that's neat about marsh mallows. i wonder what the original ones made from those roots tasted like.

thanks for another neat post.

...hugs from lenny

Julie Flanders said...

I never knew the origin of marsh mallows either. How interesting! Love the Red Knot bird too, love the coloring.

Julekha Khatun said...

Very informative as always Hilary!
I Didnot know the origin of marsh mallows either :)

Mason Canyon said...

Didn't realize there were different types of marshes. I had heard of the Marsh Mallow plant, but didn't know it was found in the salt-marshes of the Thames Estuary.

loverofwords said...

Thanks Hilary. Always learn something. I have made marshmallows, now when I do, which is not often, I will remember your blog.

Mason Canyon said...

Didn't realize there were different types of marshes. I had heard of the Marsh Mallow plant, but didn't know it was found in the salt-marshes of the Thames Estuary.

cleemckenzie said...

I knew I'd learn something amazing here today. Marsh mallow origin. I've always wondered why those puffy white sugary things had that name. You're wonderful! You've answered a question that's been rattling around in my brain for a long time.

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

From what I've noticed, we seem to be getting even more marshland over here in Britain.

I have been along that section where the Medway and the Thames Estuary converge. Somewhere around Sheerness. Interesting to note that Jo spent nearly three years near the Muddy Medway.

Mighty Marvellous Musings.

Gary

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

Marsh Mallow confectionary! Hmm. It amazes me where we find our food.

Silvia Villalobos said...

Great geography and history lesson here, Hilary. I can see how so many artistic minds have been influenced and inspired, just by looking at this and reading the background. If I close my eyes, I can see a character standing on the bridge at the Upnor Lower Medway, someone wearing a hat, and long trench, reflecting upon a certain plan or looking for the clues to solving a case. :)

Paula Kaye said...

I love that picture of the little Red Knot. We are bird watchers here!

Karen Walker said...

Cool, as always, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Tasha .. I hadn’t realised you were ‘round the corner’ so speak – ie not too far away ... Romney Marsh is lovely isn’t it .. I don’t know it that well – but travel across occasionally – and they do breed good sheep ...

As a plant the Marsh-Mallow (Althaea hirsuta) is becoming rarer .. and marsh-mallows today are pure gelatine and sugar ..

@ Bob – yes the rising damp misty air hanging over the stretches of dank marsh – so true – Pip and Great Expectations .. thanks for the reminder quote ..

@ Sophie – “The Mudway” .. that’s c/o Jo from Canada now .. the coastline has always changed around our neck of the woods ... it’s just natural changes – silting, dredging, etc and the storms change the shingle so much .. the Romney Marsh entry is quite interesting in Wiki ..

The sweet is now sugar and gelatine .. nothing quite so interesting – sadly!

@ Manzanita – I’m sure you knew a great deal .. but we are talking Britain here .. and glad you’re awake now!

@ Tina – what fun – I’ve never worn waders – and would love the opportunity to go squelching forth! Marshmallows now are terribly fake I’m afraid .. lots of sugar and some gelatine ... and this was reference to the British coasts ...

@ Rosie – don’t say that I think still being amazed is one of the best things about getting older – I won’t say ‘old’ ... but just wearing gently .. at least the brain keeps active .. !!

@ Jo – yes most of our rivers and seas are much better now ... with fish returning and plants naturalising again. Yes I remember about Hoo .. etc and I didn’t go into much depth on the post because of the amount of history that’s happened in your Muddy Medway .. and concentrated on the coast bit .. and the M for mud!!

@ Karen – I don’t remember studying them, but am sure I did ... this post, as do the others, enlighten me too . Glad you can remember back and have a few new things ...

@ Alex – I was interested to find out too – though they do come from France and were developed there .. but I was happy to find the English reference.


Thanks to you all ..

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Master GrandBlogSon!!!!!! I always remember that post and I love the Flanders and Swann songs ... but do you know we had hippopotamuses (or iiiii) wander and swimming above this land of ours ... many centuries ago ... seems strange to think how much the land and seas have altered over time.

We must have had sugar for the roots to have been ground up and made into a paste or equivalent ... the French really developed the style of marshmallow that we know today ...

@ Julie – I have to say the marshmallow origin fascinated me .. and the Red Knot – someone was saying they’d seen them here in the mudflats .. but as I didn’t know what they looked like – this was an opportunity to learn what it looked like: a marsh bird!

@ Julekha – many thanks ... well I added to my own knowledge re the Marshmallow too ...

@ Mason – the different types are obvious when we think about it – as I posted under Estuaries ... different waters coming down, and tidal waters moving up ... and then mixing .. as too the mudflats ... I had no idea about marsh-mallow .. it’s from France now-a-days .. but still having some origins in Britain was fun to learn about ..

@ Lee – this was the origin .. though they are definitely associated with France now - though seemingly made with a variant of our marsh-mallow which is very rare now ...

@ Gary – in my book it says we’re losing marsh land as it’s being drained .. but the areas were severely altered with the storms ... and fresh marshland is now semi-salt water marsh ... it’s something that ‘s not completely sorted yet ...

I don’t that area that well .. though I’ve visited and Romney Marsh ... I really should explore more ... Jo’s father had her barge up there ..

@ Teresa – well thankfully the herbalists experimented – which we’ve now benefitted from ...

@ Silvia – a lot of writers and artists have sought inspiration here ... it’s bleak, damp, beautiful if the sun shines, the wind ships through from the North Sea .. stunning area, but cruel too ...

Love your description of a sleuth mulling over the muddy waters and mulchy marsh .. what lies there – what is buried ...

@ Paula – well that’s wonderful to hear you love the birds .. I’ve put a few photos up ... so I hope you’ve enjoyed them ..

@ Karen – many thanks ...

Cheers to you all – so lovely to see you and thanks for all your comments ... Hilary

Rosie Amber said...

I've been so busy I have only just got back to visiting, glad I made it, I'm always learning something. Thank you.

Romance Book Haven said...

So I just found out how marsh mallow started! Thanks Hilary!

Margie said...

Hi Hilary
Neat to know about the origin of marsh mallows, how very interesting.
You are doing such a great job on these posts, I can imagine it takes some time.
I appreciate all the new knowledge I am taking away.
Thank you.

Juliet Batten said...

I learned to love marshes when I became involved in saving a large fresh-water marsh from a rubbish tip proposal. I pass it on my way to the bach and am always so glad it was saved.

Maggie Winter said...

I didn't know I know so little about marshes...and I grew up next to one, so pleased to learn. The Faerie Queene brings back super memories, cheers.:)
Loving the A to Z Challenge Maggie@expatbrazil.

Julia Hones said...

Hilary, I happen to live close to a big marsh that looks like a lake. And there are beautiful trails surrounding it.

Deniz Bevan said...

I'd love to try real marsh mallow. And samphire! They keep using it on MasterChef; I've never tasted it...

Michelle Wallace said...

... really interesting facts about marsh mallows!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rosie - I know the A-Z is one busy month and I'm only just getting back to replying to comments ..

@ Nas - yes or perhaps it came via France and we used something similar .. but we don't think of this sort of transition between plant and sweet or countries ...

@ Margie - I'm just delighted that readers enjoy the posts and take the time to comment ... and also say they learnt something ..

@ Juliet - interesting how we come to learn things isn't it - there's so much be-spoilment going on ... but I'm glad your fresh-water marsh was saved. I think be-spoilment should be another word!

@ Maggie - we just don't get an opportunity to think about different things do - til someone points something out ...

There were some good mentions in Wiki - re the literary figures connected to the Medway - I was grateful for the referrals ...

@ Julia - in the States you have some incredible areas ... that they've put walkways through ... so it's easier to get around - Britain is relatively small ... but I'm glad you enjoy your Marsh

@ Deniz - I wonder if they make 'real marsh mallow' anymore ... or if it's the synthetic stuff - I think we'd need to go to France ..

Samphire is another story - it's one of the plants of the moment ... it's very salty, but definitely a good addition to a plate of fish ... which I love!

@ Michelle - thank you re the marshy mallows!

Cheers to you all - so good of you to comment - Hilary