Althaea is a genus of 6-12 species that are perennial herbs and can grow up to a height of 2 to 4 feet. These plants are native to Europe and western Asia. This genus includes Althaea officinalis, also known as the marshmallow plant. These plants occur on the bank of rivers and salt marshes mostly.
The stems grow about 1-2m in length and the leaves are palmately lobed. They have 3-7 lobes. The flowers bloom in mid summer that is from July to September. The flowers are in pink or white color. These plants are food for larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Bucculatrix quadrigemina.
The Chemical constituents of the root are:
– Starch (37%)
– Mucilage (11%)
– Pectin (11%)
– Phenolic acids
This herb is used to treat mouth and throat ulcers. In culinary, they are used in salads and are boiled and fried. In cosmetics, it is used for skin treatment. It is a demulcent, expectorant, diuretic, and emollient. It is used to treat digestive and skin inflammations, gastritis, peptic, enteritis, and colitis. The root is used in treating varicose veins, ulcers, abscesses, and boils.
Medicinally, it has demulcent, expectorant, diuretic, and emollient properties. It is used to treat lung ailments, urinary problems like urethiritis and kidney stones. This is known to soothe bronchial tubes and treat constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. The root extract is used to flavor halva.
It is used in cleaning carpets and vegetable dyes and in coloring carpet’s wool. It is grown in butterfly gardens.
Growing/Caring conditions for Althae:
– Plant Althae in sandy soil.
– Add 3 inches of sand to 6 inches of top soil and mix and then plant Althae for best results.
– Fertilize Althae with a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 fertilizer.
– Apply the fertilizer in spring and water well.
– Prune the plant in the spring for regrowth.
– This plant need full day of sunlight for blooming well.
– Shady locations need to be avoided for this plant.
– The plant spacing should be about 2 feet apart from each other.
– Prune in spring and remove long and damaged and diseased branches.
– If growing in a pot, water the plant thoroughly to help the roots establish.
– Keep the soil moist and this plant can tolerate consistent moist soil.
– Frequent fertilization may be needed during the growing season.