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image of white marshmallow, partially toasted, impaled on a stick near a well built campfire.

It’s one of my favorite times of year. First – you cannot beat fall weather. Where I am, it isn’t going to feel much like fall this weekend, but you can’t fault a warm snap too much. I’m going to take the warmth to harvest my first ever marshmallow root.

I say marshmallow and I’ll bet you immediately think of the fluffy white balls of sugar. Technically we’re both right but, really, I’m more right to think plant first since your fluffy sugar was originally made with my plant.

I didn’t used to think plant first either. In fact, I’ve made marshmallows from scratch a few times for holiday presents (my grandmother is allergic to egg and you don’t need egg in marshmallow but most commercial marshmallows have an egg white component). I have made a total mess in doing so also. And none of them had anything like marshmallow root in the recipe.

I didn’t come across the plant until I started my herbalism journey and it’s fast become one of my favorites. I use marshmallow root powder in my lip balm and in a couple of my soothing salves and teas for ick and herbal hair rinses. So, I thought I’d try to grow it and it was a pretty lovely plant – the leaves are super soft and touchable.

Marshmallow root doesn’t really taste that great, so it didn’t stick around in the fluffy candy recipe for long – especially when other things with that sort of consistency taste better but marshmallow sure is great for other things. The How To Cook that website has some great research from old cookbooks that include cough lozenges where the primary active ingredient is marshmallow root pulp.

In herbalism, marshmallow is used for many things – to soothe sore throats, dry coughs, irritated or inflamed skin. That last is mostly how I use it. Part of my combination of illnesses includes very over sensitive skin that reacts quickly to many things. When the house comes down with ick, we’ll use it also – my meds really severely limit the kinds of otc cold stuff I can use but fortunately, I’m pretty handy with plants – though there are also plants I have to avoid due to my meds (man, do I miss grapefruit!).

The flower is a really pretty small white flower and it has relatively broad soft leaves. It does moderately well in a small pot so long as you remember to water it often. I’m hoping to have someplace to plant it in the ground next year to see what it can really do. And next year I’ll remember to take pictures. This year though, I’m experimenting with processing and drying the roots. It will be really nice to work with a plant I grew from seed to harvest all by myself. Not saying I’ll have enough of it that I won’t have to buy any this year but still. It means just that much more to use my own plants in the things I make.


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