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Althaea (genus): Wikis

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Althaea
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Malvoideae
Tribe: Malveae
Genus: Althaea
L.[1]
Species

Althaea armeniaca
Althaea broussonetiifolia *
Althaea cannabina - Hemp-leaved Marshmallow
Althaea hirsuta - Hairy Marshmallow
Althaea longifolia
Althaea ludwigii
Althaea narbonensis *
Althaea officinalis - Marshmallow
* Not accepted as distinct by all authors

Althaea is a genus of 6-12 species of perennial herbs, including the marshmallow plant whence the fluffy sweet confection got its name, native to Europe and western Asia. They are found on the banks of rivers and in salt marshes, preferring moist, sandy soils. The stems grow to 1-2 m tall, and flower in mid summer. The leaves are palmately lobed with 3-7 lobes. Althaea species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Bucculatrix quadrigemina.

Contents

Species

The genus formerly included a number of additional species now treated in the genus Alcea (Hollyhocks).

Chemical constituents

The root contains starch (37%), mucilage (11%), pectin (11%), flavonoids, phenolic acids, sucrose, and asparagine.

Uses

In herbalism, mallow is used as a gargle to treat mouth and throat ulcers. Allegedly, it is also useful[citation needed] for gastric ulcers.

The flowers and young leaves can be eaten, and are often added to salads or are boiled and fried. Another application is cosmetic treatment for the skin.

The root has been used since Egyptian antiquity in a honey-sweetened confection useful in the treatment of sore throat.[2] The later French version of the recipe, called pâté de guimauve (or "guimauve" for short), included an eggwhite meringue and was often flavored with rose water. Pâté de guimauve more closely resembles contemporary commercially available marshmallows, which no longer contain any actual marshmallow.

The root's emulsifying property is used for cleaning Persian carpets in the Middle East. It is regarded as the best method to preserve the vibrancy of vegetable dyes used in colouring the carpet's wool.

References

  • Medicinal Plants of the World: Chemical Constituents, Traditional and Modern Medicinal Uses by Ivan A. Ross.
  1. ^ "Althaea L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-03-12. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/genus.pl?464. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  2. ^ Petkewich, Rachel (2006). "What's that stuff? Marshmallow". Chemical & Engineering News 84 (16): 41. http://pubs.acs.org/cen/whatstuff/84/8416marshmallows.html. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 

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