English Mallow (Althea officinalis)

English Mallow (Althea officinalis)

English Mallow is a member of the hollyhock family. The leaves and roots have been used as vegetables and medicines since ancient times. The name comes from the Greek word altho which means "to heal".


English Mallow grows to about 36" in height. It has small but attractive pink flowers carried without stems. As the flowers fade, round, flat seed capsules called "cheeses" form.


This perennial can be grown from seed sown in autumn or late winter, from cuttings taken in spring, or from offsets in autumn. English Mallow needs a sunny, moist location with rich soil. When it dies back in winter, remove the old growth.


Cut leaves and flowers as required. Collect the green seeds when plump.

Medicinal Use

English Mallow is used primarily for its soothing properties, and a cold maceration of the root will be of help in soothing the digestive tract and ease gastric ulcers. It is also useful in chest colds and bronchitis. English mallow has been used to help heal ureters and urethra when there has been damage from kidney stones. A poultice of the leaves or powdered root can be used for boils, abscesses, ulcers and other skin conditions. An infusion of the flowers was used historically as a mouthwash.

Culinary Use

  • The nutty cheeses can be sprinkled in salads.
  • The young leaves and shoots can be shredded and added to salads and soups
  • The roots can be parboiled, then fried in butter.

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