This is a rare herb that belongs to the genus Althaea, a Greek word for 'heal'. An important medicinal herb, Marshmallow (aka Marsh Mallow) is a moisture loving perennial with gray-green coarsely toothed leaves. Small pale pink flowers, 5 petaled on 4' stems, adorn the plant all summer. Native to marshy areas in Europe and Asia, common marshmallow can be seen growing along grassy banks and marshland. This hardy herb is relatively easy to grow, and appreciates sandy moist soil but is not fussy about the PH and can take partial to full sun.
The leaves and roots or Marshmallow plants are used to irritated and inflamed conditions; it is rich in mucilagineous compounds which help sooth inflamed mucous membranes, expelling mucous from the lungs and bronchial tubes. According to Rodale's 21st Century Herbal, Ancient Greek doctors used the roots to treat wounds and insect bites, as well as used to relieve toothaches and constipation. By the Middle Ages, its use had expanded to include the treatment of lung infections, coughs, stomach issues and bladder infections. As a topical, Marshmallow is used for the treatment of eczema as well as other skin irritations.
A word of caution: this herb may interfere with the absorption of other medications, so make sure to separate doses by at least 2 hours.
As a culinary herb, the young shoots and leaves can be used in salads, soups and stews.