When Jefferson noted "marshmellow" in his 1794 list of "Objects for the garden this year," he was referring to Althaea officinalis. The genus name, "Althaea," is derived from the Greek, "altho," to cure. Leaves, flowers, and roots were used to reduce inflammations and to ease coughs and sore throats. The boiled root produces a white, gummy matter that was used internally as a demulcent, and externally on bruises and sprains. French confectioners once sweetened this starchy substance to make a paste used in sweets and desserts.
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