Althaea officinalis or Marsh Mallow is also known as Althaea kragujevacensis, Althaea taurinensis, Bismalva, Mauve, White Mallow, Guimauve, Mauve, Wymot, Mortification root, Joseph’s Staff, or Wymote. It is part of the Malvaceae family of plants. It is native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa.
The name Althaea is from Greek ἄλθειν meaning “to cure”, referring to its healing properties.
It is a herbaceous perennial. Althaea officinalis has grey-green leaves. The leaves are hairy, therefore, soft and velvety. They are roundish and shortly petioled. They are about 3in o 7.5cm long. Althaea officinalis stems are also grey-green. They grow to 4ft or 1.2m tall. They die down in winter and regrow next season.
How to Grow Althaea officinalis:
Althaea officinalis is easy to grow. Grow it in the sun. Plant it in moist, fertile and well-drained soil. Propagate by seed in summer. Prune it to the ground after flowering is over. Watch out for rust and flea beetles.
Althaea officinalis flowers in August and September. The flowers are cup-shaped and are similar to Common Mallow. They are paler in color. They are usually in panicles. Stamens are grouped in a tube. Marsh Mallow differs from Common Mallow through the divisions of the outer calyx and paler color of the flowers.
Ancient Egyptians prepared a confection from the root of Althaea officinalis. This evolved into marshmallows we consume today. However, our modern marshmallow no longer contains any part of this plant. They still make a salad with leaves and flowers of Althaea officinalis. In the Middle East, They use the root, to make Halva.
The leaves, roots, and flowers are used in traditional medicine. It helps with the irritations of mucous membranes and respiratory ailments.
Also read about Althaea rosea, Alcea rosea or Hollyhock
Other Synonyms of Althaea officinalis include: