Botanist's Glossary

Marshmallow - Althaea officinalis

  • Description
    • Marshmallow (Malvaceae family) is a large herbaceous perennial with velvety gray-green leaves and pretty pink-white flowers. It is common in Europe, where it grows in damp coastal areas and low river valleys. Its thick, velvet-soft leaves have emollient properties. Marshmallow is cultivated for its root. It is given to teething infants in the form of a chewstick.
  • Traditions
    • Marshmallow is an important softening ingredient in popular medicine, where it is used for most external and internal inflammations. In the consumer world (where marshmallow has disappeared), the word "marsh mallow" has nothing to do with the old "marshmallow paste" of apothecaries - a decoction made by boiling the root for a long time in water, which was prescribed to treat coughs and bronchial inflammation.
  • Properties
    • Mallow root is used for its rich mucilage content, which gives it softening and emollient properties. It helps to keep the skin moisturized and soft.