(Althaea officinalis) African native. The original source of an Egyptian confection which evolved into today's marshmallows. The roots and velvety leaves have been eaten as a vegetable for centuries, often fried with onion and garlic. 3-4 foot stems of 1-2 inch, white-to-pink flowers are reminiscent of hollyhocks, to which this plant is related. The plant is also renowned in various folk cultures for its medicinal properties.