Marshmallow plant

Etymology

The genus althaea is a Greek term that means “heal” or “stimulating the body’s own healing abilities”. The species name officinalis complements the genus, with the leaves, flowers and root of the plant being sold as herbal medicine under the name “Althaea officinalis” in pharmacies.

Althaea officinalis

Characteristics

Plant family Mallow
Flowering season July to August
Harvest Roots: in spring before the stems shoot up and in fall after the trees lose their leaves
Origin Wild: The steppe eco-region in Southern Russia and Kazakhstan, the Balkans, Italy, Spain
Vegetation Saline soil, sunny and warm areas, clay or mud soil rich in water and nutrients

 

Good to know

Sticky confectionery

What do marshmallows and the marshmallow plant have in common? Although marshmallows do not contain the extract of the marshmallow plant, this was not always so. In actual fact, the plant was directly responsible for the invention of marshmallows – and it was the French, not the Americans, who did it. They used beaten egg whites, sugar and the sticky contents of the marshmallow plant’s root to produce pâte de guimauve, the predecessor to the treat we know today.