The Malvaceae family has many plants familiar and useful to herbalists. Marshmallow is Althea officinalis but this is not found in the dry Southwest and is a challenge here even as a cultivated herb. More common in the Southwest is one of the Sphaeralcea species with blooms of various shades of orange.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.) and Hollyhock (Althea rosea) are also useful demulcents in this family.
The root, leaves and flower can all be used although the root is most commonly used.
Mallow, globe mallow, sore eye poppy (the leaves have small hairs that are eye irritants)
Habitat in Which it is Found/ Harvesting Season/ Special Considerations:
There are several species of Globe Mallows in the Southwest. I have seen them in bloom from late January through October and grow between 3,000’ and 8,000’. A very widespread and hardy group of plants. They especially like disturbed soil along trails, dirt roads and vacant fields.
Energy & Tastes:
Cool, sweet & moist
Polysaccharides and starches
A classic demulcent
Cooling, soothing and calming to mucous membrane tissues that are hot, inflamed or dry. Especially helpful with mouth ulcers, sore throats, dry coughs, irritated upper GI issues and soothing to the burning sensation of bladder infections.
The mucilaginous infusion can also be used topically when skin conditions call for its moistening and soothing actions.
It has a general overall moistening and cooling effect on the body and can be added to many formulas to adjust their energetics as needed.
Preferred Method of Preparation:
A cold water infusion is best. Add a bit of honey and this is a tasty drink that even non-herbalists will like.
The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although the Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.