Perennial herb that can reach a meter and a half in height, officinal marshmallow (Althaea officinalis L.) also called white mallow is cultivated for its medicinal properties, as an ornamental or vegetable plant, especially for its roots.
This woolly plant with grayish stems has deciduous green-silvery leaves, which are lobed and toothed. It is said to be "perennial" compared to its strain which produces underground buds. Its flowers appear in summer and take on a white-pink color, while its fruits distributed in a circle are rather yellowish. The marshmallow is generally found in Europe where it originates, but also in temperate Asian countries, as well as in North Africa. It appreciates wetlands such as seashores, streams and salt meadows, but resists frost when the soil is well drained. The leaves, roots and marshmallow flower are edible.
Marshmallow growing and caring
Propagation is done by cuttings, generally around August or September. The marshmallow is easily cultivable, but the cutting is nevertheless recommended every three or four years. In winter, the wilted leaves should be gathered at the base of the plant in order to protect it, and it is advisable to use leaf mold in autumn and spring. In addition, the marshmallow does not like the cold and the frost which favor rot. Removing the seeds in formation artificially prolongs flowering. Marshmallow seeds are stored in silos. They should be divided according to the apparent buds. The leaves are harvested in June and July, and the marshmallow flower at the start of flowering, that is to say between July and September. As for the roots, they must be pulled out at the end of autumn when the plant is wilted. After being washed, cut and dried, they keep dry and ventilated places.
Uses of Marshmallow
For the food sector, the mucilage is extracted from the marshmallow root in order to make an eraser which gives the confectionery of the same name. The leaves can also be eaten raw or steamed, like spinach, or simply used to flavor salads. This plant also has laxative, softening, bechic and emollient properties. It fights coughs, urinary disorders, gastroenteritis, boils as well as inflammation of the throat and mouth.