Althaea officinalis L


It’s a herbaceous, vivacious plant of up to 150 cm, villose. Roots are long, cylindrical, fleshy, slightly twisted of 2 cm in thickness, with deep longitudinal grooves. The surface is grayish, the bark striated and the inside white with plenty of rootlets. Leaves are alternate, with caducous stipules, lanceolate or linear. Limb is of 1.5-10 x 1.5-7 cm, with crenate or serrated edges and pubescent-stellate by both sides; lower and longer petiolate and sometimes even a little orbicular or reniform. Leaves are also entire and a little lobed with 2-3 lobes. Upper ones are shorter petiolate and oval-shaped triangular or rhomboidal and slightly lobed in 3-5 lobes. Flowers are hermaphrodite, regular, solitary or grouped in pedunculate fascicles; axillary on short peduncles of 2-20 mm pubescent-stellate. The calyx is formed by five sepals fixed at the base, oval-shaped triangular or acuminate oval-shaped, pubescent-stellate and of 8-12 mm in long. The corolla is pale pink, white or purple-pinkish, formed by five free petals of 10-18 x 6-15 mm, widely oval-shaped or oblong oval-shaped, with a pilose and ciliated thorn. Numerous stamens are fixed by a filament forming a tubular wrap for the pistil. The ovary has many carpels and locules, each of them have a seminal primordium. Fruit is an achenia with numerous seeds, discoidal schizocarp with 15 to 25 monosperm mericaprs, of 3.5-4.5 x 3.5-4 mm, covered with pubescent-stellate hair. Dorsal side is not carinate; it’s smooth of yellowish-green. It belongs to the Malvaceae family.

It’s native of Europe and western Asia. It’s found in humid regions and saline soils, swampy, orachs, small brook sides throughout Spain. It blooms from June to September and roots are to be gathered in a dry and sunny day and to desiccate immediately. Leaves are harvested in June, before blooming.

Part used

In general, the root is used; however, sometimes the leaves and the flower are used too.


Internal use

  • Inflammation and oral and digestive mucosa irritation: stomatitis, gingivitis, gastroesophageal reflux, gastric hyperacidity, gastritis, enteritis, gastroduodenal ulcer, irritable colon syndrome, intestinal inflammatory diseases (Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis).
  • Inflammation and respiratory mucosa irritation: pharyngitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, dry cough, common cold, flu and bronchitis.
  • Light constipation.
  • In some places chewed marshmallow root is used soothe his toothing pains on babies.

External use

  • Abscesses, to ripe pimple and furuncles, dermatitis, eczemas, burns, insect bites.
  • Gingivitis, stomatitis.


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