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Plant Information

Scientific Name: Althaea officinalis

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Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis


  • Perennial
  • Upright perennial with a fleshy taproot, downy stems, velvety round to ovate leaves and pale pink flowers that are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).
  • The roots are whitish yellow outside and white and fibrous within.
  • Dies down in winter and grow out again in spring.
  • Grows in any soil - will grow larger in moist than in dry soil.
  • Full sun.

Culinary Uses

  • Leaves can be eaten raw but are fibrous and somewhat hairy, though the taste is mild and pleasant - use finely chopped in salad (sparingly).
  • Can be cooked as a potherb or to thicken soup - when used as a small proportion with other leaves, the taste and texture is acceptable, but if a lot of the leaves are cooked together their mucilaginous texture makes them unpalatable.
  • The root is dried, ground into a powder, made into a paste and roasted - to make sweet 'marshmallow' when mixed with sugar and egg white.
  • (Confectionery marshmallows were once made from the root of the Althaea officinalis plant).
  • The root contains about 37% starch, 11% mucilage and 11% pectin.
  • The water left over from cooking any part of the plant can be used as an egg-white substitute in making meringues.
  • The water from the root is the most effective, it is concentrated by boiling until it has a similar consistency to egg white.
  • A tea is made from the flowers as well as the root.

Parts Used

  • Leaves, flowers and roots
  • Leaves are picked when the flowers are just coming into bloom.
  • Root is harvested in the autumn, preferably from 2 year old plants.

Medicinal Uses. It is said that

  • Soothing demulcent for treating inflammations and irritations of the mucous membranes - urinary (urethritis and kidney stones) and respiratory organs.
  • The root counters excess stomach acid, peptic ulceration and gastritis.
  • Is applied externally to bruises, sprains, aching muscles, insect bites, skin inflammations (eczema, psoriasis), splinters etc.
  • The whole plant, but especially the root, is demulcent, diuretic, highly emollient and slightly laxative.
  • An infusion of the leaves is used to treat cystitis and frequent urination.
  • The root can be used in an ointment for treating boils and abscesses.
  • Young tops and tender leaves of Marsh Mallow can be eaten (uncooked) in spring salads, to stimulate the kidneys - a syrup made from the roots will do the same.
The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. This site merely recounts the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Mountain Herb Estate, and its representatives will not be held responsible for the improper use of any plants or documentation provided. By use of this site and the information contained herein you agree to hold harmless Mountain Herb Estate, its affiliates and staff

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