Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


mallow, common name for members of the Malvaceae, a family of herbs and shrubs distributed over most of the world and especially abundant in the American tropics. Tropical species sometimes grow as small trees. The family is characterized by often mucilaginous sap and by showy, five-part flowers with a prominent column of fused stamens. The true mallows (genus Malva) are native to north temperate regions of the Old World, although many species have escaped from cultivation and become naturalized in the United States. North American species, sometimes cultivated and most common in the South and West, include the false mallows (genus Malvastrum) and the rose, or swamp, mallows (genus Hibiscus) found in marshy areas across the country. Introduced species of hibiscus include the rose of Sharon, or shrubby althea (H. syriacus), a popular ornamental bush or small tree native to Asia, and okra, or gumbo (H. esculentus), native to Africa, whose mucilaginous pods are used as a vegetable and in soups and stews. Alothea is an Old World genus. The hollyhock (A. rosea), the most popular ornamental of the family, is a Chinese perennial now widely naturalized and cultivated as a biennial or annual in many varieties of diverse colors. A. officinalis is the marsh mallow, a name sometimes used also for the larger-blossomed rose mallows. The root of the true marsh mallow, a native of Europe, has been used medicinally. It was formerly used for the confection marshmallow, which is now usually made from syrup, gelatin, and other ingredients. The tropical and subtropical flowering maple genus Abutilon, named for the maplelike foliage of some species, includes several house and bedding ornamentals. Some Asian species yield a fiber known as China jute—e.g., the velvetweed (A. theophrasti), called also Indian mallow and velvetleaf for the texture of its foliage. This plant, introduced to the United States as an ornamental, has become a noxious weed. Economically, the most important plant in the family is cotton (genus Gossypium), with species native to both the Old and New World and cultivated independently in both areas from early times. The mallow family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Malvales.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a genus of herbaceous plants of the mallow family. Within the Eurasian temperate zone there are about 12 species, eight of which are found in the USSR. The most important species is Althaea officinalis (the marshmallow), a plant with axillar blossoms, growing in both Europe and Asia; in the USSR it is found in the steppe and forest steppe zones of the European part of the country, in Siberia, in Kazakhstan, and in some districts of Middle Asia. The plant grows along river and lake banks, in solonetzic meadows, in brush, and less often on wasteland. The marshmallow is cultivated in the Ukraine and the Krasnodar Krai. The dried roots of this plant are used medicinally in the form of a powder, infusion, or syrup, as an emollient, expectorant, antipyretic, and unguent, mainly in connection with respiratory diseases. Preparations of the marshmallow are sometimes used to treat inflammations of the urinary tract.


Atlas lekarstvennykh rastenii SSSR. Moscow, 1962.
Kondratenko, P. T., S. D. Kur, and F. M. Rozhko. Zagotovka, vyrashchivanie i obrabotka lekarstvennykh rastenii. Moscow, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
According to the role of biofilms in pathogenicity and the results of this study, different concentrations of the plant extracts showed a high capability of inhibition in biofilm bacteria formation and it reveals the potential of Althaea officinalis extracts as an alternative and complementary medicine for P.
Fructose is present in appreciable quantity in Matricaria chamomella (flowers) while Althaea officinalis (roots) has the highest amount of sucrose among the plants under study.
gowdeyi is a very common species in the Caribbean area (Mound & Marullo 1996), and it has been reported on pineapple, Ananas comosus (L.) Merr., species of Aster and Bidens (Asteraceae), Salvia (Lamiaceae), Althaea (Malvaceae) and others in Costa Rica (Soto-Rodriguez et al.
Aqueous extracts and polysaccharides from Marshmallo roots (Althaea officinalis L): cellular internalization and stimulation of cell physiology of human epithelial cells in virro.
Trade name Pharmaceutical Active Igredients form Althym[R] Syrup Althaea officinalis fluidextract (0,5%), Thymus vulgaris fluid extract Apple-lite[R] Tablets Each tablet contains: Apple fibres 500mg (from-apple cuticle).
Such species include many annuals, e.g., Althaea ludwigii, Anagallis arvensis, Arnebia decumbens, Calendula arvensis, Campanula erinus, Helianthemum salicifolium, Plantago amplexicaulis, Reichardia tingitana, Rumex vesicarius, Scabiosa olivieri and Trigonella stellata, as well as a variety of perennials such as Artemisia sieberi, Farsetia aegyptia, Helianthemum lippii, Ixiolirion tataricum, Moraea sisyrhinchium, Piptatherum holciforme and Prunus arabica (see, e.g., Shuaib 1995).
The first seven "Herbal Insights" provide brief profiles on the following popular herbs: chamomile (Matricaria recutita), peppermint (Mentha x piperita), ginger (Zingiber officinale), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), senna (Senna alexandrina) and slippery elm (Ulma rubra) bark.
In a passage where Althaea discusses the nature of dreams, she begins by alluding once more to the seasons: Will ye pray back the night with any prayers?
Caerulea, Scutellaria nana, Pedicularis densiflora, Leonotis leonuru, Zornia latifolia o Zornia diphylla, Nelumbo nucifera, Leonurus sibiricus, Althaea officinalis, Rosa canina.
If you can't be bothered with staking, try Althaea cannabina, a pink variety growing to 2.1m which doesn't need propping up.
Hollyhock (Alcea or Althaea) THESE cottage garden favourites grow to about 1.8 metres and produce tall spires of flowers in various colours from July to September.