An ancient plant, well known individuals such as Plato and Virgil would often give praise over this herbs many beneficial qualities. Old timers would boil powdered roots in water, adding sugar to create a gooey paste. This really was the original marshmallow! Today’s commercialized candy has taken a different path, and is in no way related to this herb.
This is a hardy perennial which can easily reach six feet. The marshmallow does best when allowed to grown in full sunlight, and thrives in moist loam. After a spring planting, seedlings should be thinned to one foot. Watch this plant as it grows; if stems are too congested, this will hamper their growth. If its too crowded, feel free to further thin the plants so that they are two feet apart. This herb does poorly when grown indoors.
To harvest the marshmallow, collect the seeds as they ripen, pick the leaves as needed, and dig up the roots in the fall. With the exception of the roots, the entire plant should be dried. Roots are made into a syrup.
When in full bloom, the marshmallow bears delicate white flowers which make a nice addition to fresh bouquets. The seeds can be eaten by themselves, or sprinkled on salads like nuts. The flower is edible as well, and makes an interesting addition to any food dish. Young leaves can be tossed in with the lettuce, or steamed and served as a vegetable. It’s usually cooked like spinach. To eat the root, boil it to soften, then fry, add salt, and enjoy!
For cosmetic purposes, the leaves can be boiled or you can use the liquid from steeped roots. This creates a healthy ‘slime’ which can be placed on dry hands to soften the skin. Once cooled the product helps sooth a sunburn. It revitalizes dry hair, can be implemented as a healthy facial steam, and the mucilage makes a pleasant face mask. This can be added to lotions, or turned into an eye compress to help soften the skin around that area.