Althea officinalis - Marsh mallow

The photos are of a domesticated wild plant: in August 2001 we collected seeds from Marsh mallows at Newtown nature reserve in the Isle of Wight. This is the spectacular result - photos taken July, 2009. This is a single plant growing in Burwell, Cambs - one of the driest parts of the country. It flourishes because it is in the corner of a paved area which never fully dries out: being a marsh plant, it likes its roots moist!

You can eat the leaves and flowers (don't bother - common mallow and musk mallow are better!) but the part normally used is the root. This however is a much-loved garden plant so we have not experimented. Modern marshmallows do not contain Marsh mallow - but that was how they got their name for they were first made from the root of the plant.

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Page first published 20th May, 2001.
Last modified: 2017
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