The Marshmallow Althaea officinalis Mucilaginous, vigorous medicinal root.
Marshmallow Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis (marsh-mallow, marsh mallow, or common marshmallow) is a perennial species indigenous to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, which is used as a medicinal plant and ornamental plant. A confection made from the root since ancient Egyptian time evolved into today’s marshmallow treat.
The stems, which die down in the autumn, are erect, 3 to 4 ft, but can reach 6’6″. Simple, or putting out only a few lateral branches. The leaves, shortly petioled, are roundish, ovate-cordate. They are 2 to 3 in long, and about 1 1⁄4 inch broad. Entire or three to five lobed, irregularly toothed at the margin, and thick. They are soft and velvety on both sides due to a dense covering of stellate hairs. The flowers are shaped like those of the common mallow. Also are smaller and of a pale color, and are either axillary, or in panicles, more often the latter.
The stamens are united into a tube, the anthers, kidney-shaped and one-celled. The flowers are in bloom during August and September, and are followed, as in other species of this order, by the flat, round fruit which are popularly called “cheeses”.
The common mallow is frequently called “marsh mallow” by country people, but the true marsh mallow is distinguished from all the other mallows growing in Great Britain by the numerous divisions of the outer calyx (six to nine cleft), by the hoary down which thickly clothes the stems and foliage, and by the numerous panicles of blush-colored flowers, paler than the common mallow. The roots are perennial, thick, long and tapering, very tough and pliant, whitish yellow outside, white and fibrous within.