Scientific name: Althaea officinalis

The family which marshmallow belongs to comes with many health benefits and few toxicities if any. It is sweet and can be used both internally and externally, as food and medicine.

Back in the day, before it became a sugary chewy thing melted over a camp fire containing no actual marshmallow plant, it was eaten as a root vegetable. Later on, it was used to create a sweet light confection and was helpful for coughs and digestive issues, even in infants.

Nutrients

  • Polysaccarides
  • Flavonoids
  • Betaine
  • Coumarins
  • Beta-carotene
  • Vitamin B
  • Calcium

Health Benefits

  • Anti-inflammatory: especially inflamed and irritated tissues within the respiratory system, digestive system, skin, and bowel. Helpful for arthritis.
  • Soothing for bladder & kidney infections
  • Helpful for stomach ulcers: neutralizes excess stomach acid
  • Soothing for dry coughs
  • Diuretic
  • Useful for mellowing stronger herbs
  • Roots best for: digestive, inflammation in digestive tract, and on the skin. Externally can be used for varicose veins, ulcers, and abscesses.
  • Leaves best for: lungs (eg bronchitis, dry coughs) and urinary system.

Cooking Tips

Marshmallow root is used to create the original “marshmallows” – sweet, but with a few health benefits!

Quick Remedies

(consult a doctor if experiencing any serious conditions)

  • Dry skin: mix marshmallow with chamomile tea and rub on skin as needed.
  • Eczema, itchy dry skin: create a bath with marshmallow, relax and soak!

How to Grow

Planting

Where do you live?

Marshmallow is a pretty perennial with white or pink flowers that grows best in zones 5-8 but is not very picky. Make sure you make room as it can grow 4 feet tall.

Put em in the ground

Seeds must be exposed to a winter-like period before they will sprout, so it’s easier to start with young plants from a nursery. Ensure you purchase this variety if using for medicinal purposes. Feel free to add some mulch on top to keep in moisture and cut down on weeds.

  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Loamy, moist soil (as found in a marsh)
  • Light to moderate watering

Harvest

The roots, leaves, and flowers can be used for medicinal purposes, and each requires different harvest times. You likely won’t see flowers until the 2nd year, and it will take a few years before the roots are large enough to be used.

  • Leaves: for fresh use, these can be picked anytime they’re available. If drying, pick just after the plant flowers.
  • Roots: harvest just before the ground freezes in late Fall or early Spring.

Care

Marshmallow is mostly left alone except for the pest rust (a fungal disease). Remove infected leaves and rake under the plant. More natural rust treatments.