Althaea officinalis, marshmallow, is a species of flowering plant native to Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, which is used in herbalism, also as a pretty garden plant. The ancient Egyptian’s made a confection from the plant root, which has evolved into today's marshmallow treat, but these no longer tend to contain any marsh-mallow root.
An herbaceous perennial, growing to 90 to 120 cm (3 to 4 ft), with lilac/pink flowers shaped like those of the common mallow, but are smaller and of a paler colour. The flowers bloom during August and September, and are followed by the flat, round fruit, which due to their shape are commonly called cheeses.
The leaves, flowers and the root of A. officinalis have been used in traditional herbal medicine, used primarily to relieve irritation of mucous membranes, including use as a gargle for mouth and throat ulcers and gastric ulcers. In Russia, a syrup made from the root is used to treat respiratory and digestive ailments.
The mallow family have been used as food for centuries, as has been found in written records from the Romans and the Egyptians. One recipe cited says to boil the roots, then fry them with onions and butter, to form an appetising dish; the young leaves can be cooked, and the flower buds can be pickled. The roots can also be peeled, sliced, boiled and sweetened to make candy. Whilst the water used to boil any part of the plant can be used as an egg white substitute.
Wash well about two tablespoons of mallow leaves. Then chop them into small pieces and place in a saucepan.
Add an amount equivalent to one and a half cups of. Simmer for ten minutes, then strain.
Sweeten with honey, only drink one to three cups per day.
Magical correspondences –
Gender - Female
Planet - Moon & Venus
Sun sign - Libra & Cancer
Deity - Venus & Aphrodite
Magical uses –
Love, healing, comforting, protective, cleansing, death and rebirth, transformation, Samhain rituals, divination, dreams, astral travel, fertility, glamour/beauty magic.
Dried marshmallow can be burned to cleanse a space or to make protective oils -
Mallow Protection Incense Blend
2 parts mallow – leaves and flowers
2 parts rosemary
1 part thyme
Mallow Protection Anointing Oil
Place dried flowers and leaves in a bowl, cover with your choice of oil.
Put this over a saucepan of simmering water until the plant material looks wilted, approximately an hour.
Strain out the plant and pour the oil into a sterilised container, label and keep in a cool dark place.
Use in spirit bottles, mojo bags and poppets.
Planting marshmallow on or near a grave, or decorating a grave with the flowers, is used to honour the dead.
Sources and further reading –
A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Plants & Herbs by Rachel Patterson