Marshmallow

Price: $ 5.90

Althaea officinalis

A very multi-functional as well as attractive plant, and the true marshmallow used to make the confectionery in the past (the root was dried, ground into a powder, made into a paste then roasted). The leaves can be used in salads in small quantities and finely chopped. Their slightly mucilaginous texture can be used to advantage to thicken soups etc, and the water from the boiled leaves or roots can be used as a substitute for egg whites. The root can also be used as a vegetable raw or cooked but is more of a famine food.  The plant has been used medicinally since Greek and Roman times and has a soothing effect e.g. on the membranes of the respiratory and digestive tract. Externally the roots can be applied to bruises, sprains, aching muscles etc.  The leaves are also used cosmetically for their soothing qualities, the roots can be used as an emergency toothbrush and can be chewed on by teething children.  As if that was not enough, a fibre from the stem can be used to make paper and the roots can be boiled up for glue!  The plants are happy in most garden situations but will benefit from rich moist soil.  Perennial to 120cm.

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