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Sorry, I have not been able to find any connection to those puffy white confections we all know as marshmallows, except that the powdered roots mixed with water make a fluffy paste. If you know of any such folklore, please let me know! Marshmallows proper (Althaea officinalis) grow wild in the eastern part of this United States, but there are many species that grow wild in our neighborhood. The most common garden variety is the Hollyhock, and it can be used as marshmallow in the following treatments. Marshmallows possess the highest concentrations of mucilage, polysaccharides, asparagin and tannins of the group. I grow both Hollyhocks and Marshmallow at our organic farm. Externally, it is good for wounds, burns, boils and skin ulceration. Marshmallow and Hollyhocks grow about three feet tall, with pretty hibiscus like flowers in pinks, white and purple. They will thrive in any soil or situation, but grows larger in moist than in dry soil, and can be cultivated in any unused, wet ground. I like to grow them as a background in borders. Although the flowers and leaves can be used, the roots have the most nutrients, are thick, long and tapering, very tough and pliant. They are white and fibrous inside. Most of the Mallows have been used as food. It is boiled first and then fried with onions and butter. Remember that when you are lost in the woods! It can be raised from seed, or divisions made from the roots. The leaves and flowers are picked in August, the root is harvested in the fall and winter. Marshmallow water is made by soaking one ounce of roots in four cups of cold water, then simmering down to three cups. Strain through loosely woven cloth to keep as much muclilage as possible. This decoction can be used for inflammations of the mucous membranes: gastritis, esiphagitis, enteritis, peptic ulcers, hiatus hernia and for urinary inflammations such as cystitis. The result of these preparations is a gummy paste, great to use as a poultice externally, and soothing for sore throats and stomachaches when taken internally. Leaves may be used in a tea to soothe and heal bronchial and urinary disorders. They are expectorant, diuretic and demulcent. Try growing some of these pretty, easy plants. Look for them as weeds in your garden! Identify what you have before using medicinally. Harvest roots and make your preparations in the fall to ease colds and flu this winter. The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002 NRCS Plants database images Disclaimer: Herbal medicine and teas, as a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA. Lynn Cochrane makes no health claims. Any herbal or tea information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in any way, and is for informational purposes only. She does not take responsibility for your experience using them. She trusts that you will consult a licensed healthcare professional when appropriate, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, anyone over 60 years of age, anyone under 12 years of age, or anyone with a serious medical condition.