You'll find a list of all my blog posts in the blog archive.

Herb of the week: Mallows.

Photo: Malva moschata 12. A short-short profile:

Latin: various species of Malva, Alcea, Althaea, Lavatera, Sphaeralcea, Malope, and similar mallows.
Family: mallow family, Malvaceae.
Parts used: Aboveground parts. For the perennials, roots as well.
Taste: Bland, mucilaginous.
4 humors: Cool, moist.


  • cooling, mucilaginous
  • helps mucous membranes
  • good for coughs
  • good for "dry" people


  • Pick all and any of the various bland mallow-family plants that you can find, and use them as teas.
  • They're very hard to dry properly. Most dried marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) root that I buy (from the larger UK herb houses) has a sour smell ... it has fermented, either during drying, or in storage.
  • The flowery tops of some mallows can harbour a lot of small larvae. Get around the problem by drying your mallows, and, if you notice escaping larvae, throw the lot into your freezer once it's dry. Leave it there for three days, then dump it back into your dehydrator (or similar hot spot) and finish drying it ... there'll be at least some condensed moisture to get rid of. (Or pick the leaf only: the larvae are in the flowers and seedpods. That's not so pretty as a tea, though.)
  • It's best to cut roots and stems into pieces (ready for tea) before you dry it, or at least before you finish drying it. That is, if your summer is humid. If you cut your stems when they're fresh out of the dehydrator, they'll say "sssslllllrrrrp" and be all moist again, before you get around to putting it into airtight jars. Mallows love water, and suck up any moisture at all.
  • Storing mallows in paper bags is right out, if you live where it's humid. Unless your paper bags are industrial size, industrial strength, and hold a barrel each, of chopped-up root.
  • Plastic bags, for your pint or five of mallows, are even worse ...


  • Give the leaf as a tea in dry hacking coughs. It's nicely soothing and cooling.
  • Give the leaf as a tea in various digestive upsets: it's nicely soothing and cooling. And healing to the mucous membranes.
  • Give the leaf as a tea in urinary tract irritations: it's nicely soothing and cooling ... (see a theme, there?)
  • Make a tea from the above ground parts, or from the root, and drink that if you're "water dry". It's also great for an irritated gut.

Comments on Facebook:

  • Deb Price:
    are hollyhocks mallow?
    15 August 2012 at 16:29
  • Henriette:
    For all practical purposes, yes.
    15 August 2012 at 17:03
  • Ambree Williams Cool:
    ...hibiscus is one of my favorite teas and I believe it's in the same family...
    16 August 2012 at 01:33
  • Henriette:
    The Roselle is a tad different from the rest of the mallows: it's mainly refreshingly sour. (It might be mucilaginous, but I have to say that I haven't noticed, in roselle.) Other hibiscuses, like H. rosa-sinensis, can be used like any other mallow.
    16 August 2012 at 07:05
  • Ann Neaderman:
    Do they grow well in Scandanavia?
    15 August 2012 at 18:50
  • Henriette:
    Some species do, others don't. NONE in the wild up here, all have to be garden-grown.
    15 August 2012 at 19:11

Comments on the herblist:

  • None.

It's in my book "Practical Herbs 2.

Please add your own experiences etc. in the comments.

Add new comment