Pale marshmallow thrives in ditches
A couple of weeks ago the BBC filmed some pieces for a new programme at the wonderful Fairfield Church, Romney Marsh. One of the topics they did was on the nationally scarce plant marshmallow which grows in the edges of ditches across the Marsh.
With a pale pink flower, the plant grows up to 4ft high and the leaves are dusky green and soft to touch. It does very well seeding all over my garden, so it is not always fussy in its requirements. However, nationally its habitat is coastal grazing and arable landscapes which have had some brackish influence over time. In Kent there is a population on the Medway, but the stronghold is across the Romney Marsh.
The fascinating aspect of this plant is that it is the origin of the sweet marshmallows where they used the roots of the plant. The roots look like whitish baby carrots and with the starch, sugars and a mucilage which breaks down when soaked in water – this was the original marshmallow sweet.
If you look up the plant in reference books, you will see that over the centuries the marshmallow has been used for remedies for ailments, in particular for skin conditions, helping sore throats and digestive issues, due to the thick mucilage and soothing properties.
For more information contact Owen Leyshon, Romney Marsh Countryside Partnership, telephone 01797 367934 or log on to www.rmcp.co.uk