Marshmallow Althaea officinalis Edible Perennial

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis is an edible perennial plant that may have medicinal properties, can be cultivated, but also grows wild in the US.


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My Experience

I do not have a lot of experience growing this herb yet.  I was in a Permaculture Design Class (PDC) this past fall and one of the people there was an herbalist.  She had a number of packets of seeds for sale and marshmallow was one of them.  She explained to us what the seeds were and some of the benefits so I had to buy them.  Below I will explain a little about this plant and will follow up later this year on how they did.

The Basics

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis Edible Perennial

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis Edible Perennial

Marshmallow has a botanical name of Althaea officinalis. The generic name, Althaea, is derived from the Greek, altho (to cure), from its healing properties.  It is a green perennial that is hardy in zones 3 through 9 and likes partial shade to full sun.  They grow in clumps about 4 feet tall and about 2 1/2 feet wide, with maple-like leaves. It’s soft, hairy leaves are deeply cut in 3 divisions, similar in shape to a maple leaf.

Flower

Trumpet-shaped white flowers about 3 inches wide and 3 inches deep grow on the top one-third of the plants from July to September giving way to seedpods that ripen from August to October.

The plant will begin to flower in the second year.

Harvest the leaves after flowering and harvest the root in late fall.

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis Edible Perennial

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis Edible Perennial

Propagation

Marshmallow can be propagated via seed, divisions, and cuttings.

Cold stratify seeds for 4 weeks and then plant just below the soil surface, and space the groups of seeds 18 to 24 inches apart. Root divisions are taken in late fall or early spring when there is not active growth above ground.  Softwood cuttings are easy to root in the summer.

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis Edible Perennial

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis Edible Perennial

Edible

The leaves, flowers, roots and seeds are edible. Roots contain a mucilagelike material that can be cooked into a soft sweet food and was used as the original marshmallow.

Marsh Mallow contains starch, mucilage, pectin, oil, sugar, asparagin, phosphate of lime, glutinous matter and cellulose. (2)

Medicinal

According to webmd.com; “Marshmallow leaf and root are used for pain and swelling (inflammation) of the mucous membranes that line the respiratory tract. They are also used for dry cough, inflammation of the lining of the stomach, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, constipation, urinary tract inflammation, and stones in the urinary tract.
People sometimes apply marshmallow leaf and root directly to the skin for pockets of infection (abscesses) and skin ulcers; and as a poultice for skin inflammation or burns, and for other wounds.” * (1)

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Amazon Link for Seeds

Recipe

Marsh Mallow Water
‘Soak one ounce of marshmallow roots in a little cold water for half an hour. Peel off the bark, or skin. Cut up the roots into small shavings, and put them into a jug to stand for a couple of hours; the decoction must be drunk tepid, and may be sweetened with honey or sugar-candy, and flavored with orange-flower water, or with orange juice. (2)

Photo References/Sources:

(1) http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-774-marshmallow.aspx?activeingredientid=774&
(2) http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mallow07.html
(3) Copyright expired due to age of image Source: from ”Koehler’s Medicinal-Plants” 1887 {{GFDL-DD}} (PIC1)
(4) flower Pic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Althea_officinalis_flor.jpg
(5) {{Information |Description ={{en|1=Marshmallow roots from a cultivated ”Althaea officinalis” plant, Castelltallat, Catalonia}} |Source ={{own}} |Author =Victor M. Vicente Selvas |Date =04/12

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