A perennial plant that is closely related to the hollyhock. The woody stems of the marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) measure up to 1.8 m (6 ft) in height. The plant’s large, wide leaves are notched and terminate in a sharp point. Both the stems and the leaves are covered with soft downy hair. The pale-pink, five-petal flowers are about 5 cm (2 in.) across. In times of famine, the marshmallow’s white carrotlike root has been used for food. The sole Scriptural reference to the marshmallow alludes to its tastelessness.—Job 6:6.
The Hebrew term chal·la·muthʹ, found only at Job 6:6, has been variously rendered “egg” (AS, KJ), “purslain” (AT), and, as defined in a Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon by L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, “marsh-mallow” (Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, Leiden, 1958, p. 304).