There are several different Mallow plants. Some are grown primarily as ornamentals in gardens. The one that has been used the most for food and folk medicine is Althaea officinalis. Its leaves are velvety grey and it produces pink flowers. Several other varieties have been used as food or medicine in some way or form over the years.
Both the roots and the leaves are used. They are viscous or mucilaginous when cooked, just as Okra is.
In Syria, Mallow is still eaten today. The roots are peeled and boiled, then roasted to carmelize them. In France, young leaves of the plants are still added to salads, but the leaves have to be very young. Older leaves get stringy and too hairy to eat raw.
Don’t add too many Mallow leaves to a soup, as it will get gloopy. Tea can be made from the roots or the leaves.
Mallow is now mostly considered a folk medicine.
Romans used the leaves in barley soup both as greens in it, and as a thickener.
Mallow was brought as a medicinal herb by the colonists to North America, where it now grows wild as a garden escape.
Marshmallow candy used to made from the sticky juice from the root.
Althaea, in the scientific name, comes from the Greek word “altho” meaning “I cure”, which became “altheo” in Latin, with the same meaning.
Also called Hock Herb; Mallards; Mauls; Mortification root; Schloss Tea; Sweet Weed.