Althea officinalis L.
2044 (3). A. officinalis L., Sp. Pl. ed. 1 (1753) 686; Hayek, Prodr. Fl. Penins. Balc. I (1925) 552; Tutin, Fl. Eur. II (1968) 253; A. taurinensis DC., Prodr. I (1824) 436; Vel., Fl. Bulg. (1891) 100 et Suppl. I (1898) 59 — Лечебна ружа
Fam: Malvaceae Juss.
Genus: Althea L.
Species: Althea officinalis L.
English Name: Marsh-mallow
Perennial plant. Roots spindle-shaped, thick, strongly branched. Stems 50 - 200 cm tall, erect, simple or branched, usually greyish green, long star-shaped velvety fibrous (only the lower parts after flowering are sometimes stripped). Stipule about 10 mm long, almost to the base numerously incised, narrowly lance or linear, greyish green, densely velvety fibrous, early falling. Leaves 50 - 150 mm long and 30 - 120 mm wide, triangularly ovate, not incised to palm-like incised, often folded, pointed; unevenly serrated, gray to gray green; shiny, densely stellar velvety fibrous; petioles 20 - 65 mm long, grayish green, densely stellar velvety fibrous. Blossom petioles 2 - 10 mm long, grayish green, densely velvety fibrous, during the fetus erect; flower stems up to 120 mm long. The blossoms are numerous; single in leaf axils or collected numerous in axillary and apex short inflorescences. External sepals 3 - 6 mm long, growing from almost only the base to 1/3, with (7) 8 - 10 linear to linearly lance, filamentally drained gray-green free shares; outside densely stellar, fibrous, fringed on the edge; inside with simple long hairs; inner 6 - 12 mm long, fused to 1/3, with 5 triangular ovoid, pointed, grayish-green free shares; outside star-velvety fibrous; internally velvety fibrous, at the base glabrous; during the fetus almost non-expanding, including the latter. Petals 9 - 20 mm long, wide to oblong back ovoid, shallowly incised or slightly wavy at the apex, the nail silky fibrous; white to pinkish white, rarely red. Stamen tube up to 5 mm long, with scattered bubbles; the anthers are purple-red. Fruit 7 - 8 (10) mm in diameter, disintegrating into 15 - 25 light brown fruit shares; the back wall of the latter with a vaguely longitudinal median line, slightly transversely wrinkled, densely star-shaped fibrous; lateral walls in the peripheral parts slightly radially wrinkled, fibrous, in the central parts smooth, with a flour coating; edges rounded. Seeds are dark brown, smooth, stripped.
To be indicated to be specified for Bulgaria A. officinalis var. argutidens Borb. (= A. micrantha Wiesb.) For the Pre-Balkans (Sevlievo - Nach., 1908).
From: „Флора на Н Р България”, том VII, БАН, София, (1979)
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Althaea officinalis, or marsh-mallow, is a perennial species indigenous to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, which is used in herbalism and as an ornamental plant. A confection made from the root since ancient Egyptian times evolved into today's marshmallow treat, but most modern marshmallow treats no longer contain any marsh-mallow root.
The stems, which die down in the autumn, typically grow 3 to 4 ft (0.91 to 1.22 m), but can reach 6.5 feet (2.0 m) and put out only a few lateral branches. The leaves are shortly petioled, roundish, ovate-cordate, 2 to 3 in (51 to 76 mm) long, and about 11⁄4 inch broad, entire or three to five lobed, irregularly toothed at the margin, and thick. They are soft and velvety on both sides, due to a dense covering of stellate hairs. The flowers are shaped like those of the common mallow, but are smaller and of a pale colour, and are either axillary, or in panicles, more often the latter.
The stamens are united into a tube, the anthers, kidney-shaped and one-celled. The flowers are in bloom during August and September, and are followed, as in other species of this order, by the flat, round fruit which are popularly called "cheeses".
The common mallow is frequently called "marsh mallow" in colloquial terms, but the true marsh mallow is distinguished from all the other mallows growing in Great Britain by the numerous divisions of the outer calyx (six to nine cleft), by the hoary down which thickly clothes the stems and foliage, and by the numerous panicles of blush-coloured flowers, paler than the common mallow. The roots are perennial, thick, long and tapering, very tough and pliant, whitish yellow outside, white and fibrous within.
The generic name, Althaea, is derived from the Greek ἄλθειν (to cure), from its supposed healing properties. The name of the family, Malvaceae, is derived from the Latin malva, a generic name for the mallows and the source of the English common name mallow.
Most of the mallows have been used as food, and are mentioned by early classic writers with this connection. Mallow was an edible vegetable among the Romans; a dish of marsh mallow was one of their delicacies. Prospero Alpini stated in 1592 that a plant of the mallow kind was eaten by the Egyptians. Many of the poorer inhabitants of Syria subsisted for weeks on herbs, of which marshmallow is one of the most common. When boiled first and fried with onions and butter, the roots are said to form a palatable dish, and in times of scarcity consequent upon the failure of the crops, this plant, which grows there in great abundance, is collected heavily as a foodstuff.
The leaves, flowers and the root of A. officinalis (marshmallow) have been used in traditional herbal medicine. This use is reflected in the name of the genus, which comes from the Greek ἄλθειν (althein), meaning "to heal."
Marshmallow was traditionally used as relief for irritation of mucous membranes, including use as a gargle for mouth and throat ulcers and gastric ulcers. In Russia, the root syrup is sold without a prescription by pharmacies, with intent to treat minor respiratory ailments.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia * * * Flowering Time: Blooms: VII - IX. Distribution in Bulgaria: Growing on wet meadows, along rivers, in shrubs and in rushes, in plains, hills and mountains. Distributed from sea level up to 1000 m altitude. (Conspectus of the Bulgarian Vascular Flora) = conspectus&gs_l= Zlc.
Distribution: Europe (south of England, Denmark, and central parts of the European part of the USSR), Asia, North Africa, introduced into North America.
Conservation status and threats: not protected species in Bulgaria by the Biodiversity Law. - Biological Diversity Act - http://eea.government.bg/bg/legislation/biodiversity/zbran_22.08.15.pdf
Medical plant: yes, it is medical plant - Medicinal Plants Act - http://eea.government.bg/bg/legislation/biodiversity/ZLR_en.pdf
References: „Флора на Н Р България”, том VII, БАН, София, (1979), Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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