Mallow - Marsh

Scientific name: Hibiscus lasiocarpos
Abundance: rare
What: roots, young leaves, flower buds,
How: Leaves, roots, stem, and flowers contain a mucilage-like material which can be used to thicken soups and stews. Flowers can be eaten raw. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked with other greens or boiled alone. Roots are peeled, sliced then fried. Flower buds can be raw or cooked. All parts of the plant can be made into tea, seeds are roast and ground for a coffee substitute.
Where: Moist areas
When: Young leaves in spring, summer; roots all year, flowers in summer.
Nutritional Value: Roots high in starch, rest of plant contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals

Medicinal Summary:
Root - demulcent; laxative; slows sugar transfer from stomach to blood; soothes gastrointestinal inflammations (poultice, tisane)

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are arranged alternately along the stems.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are broadly ovate, with a length of approximately 4 to 6 inches and a width of 3 to 5 inches.

Leaf Venation: The venation is palmate, with prominent veins.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margin is serrated, featuring tooth-like projections along the edge.

Leaf Color: The upper side of the leaves is typically medium to dark green, while the underside may have a lighter hue.

Flower Structure: The 5-petaled flowers are large and showy, with a diameter of about 3 to 5 inches. They are located at the terminal ends of the stems.

Flower Color: The flowers are white to pink with deeper red centers. Calyx have long, narrow protrusions wrapping up the sides of the flower buds.

Fruit: The fruit is an okra-like capsule, approximately 1" long, containing longitudinal lines of seeds attached to a central, multi-sided rib.

Seed: Immature seeds are white and soft, turning dark and hard when mature.

Stem: The stems are erect, with a woody base, supporting the large, terminal flowers. Young stems sections are green or red whereas lower, mature sections can be brown.

Hairs: The leaves, stems, sepals, and calyx are covered in fine, fuzzy hairs.

Height: Hibiscus lasiocarpos can reach a height of 3 to 6 feet, with the large flowers extending above the foliage.

Marsh mallow flowers and flower buds, both of which are edible.
Marsh Mallow

Marsh mallow (plants grow up to four feet tall). Note last year's dried seedpods.


Marsh mallow leaf.

Close-up of marsh mallow leaf. Note the fine hairs which give it a velvety feel.

Marsh mallow flower.


Marsh mallow flower buds before blooming.
Mallow - Marsh

Note the long, narrow calyx wrapping up the sides of the buds .

Tender seedpods taste kind of like okra.
Marsh Mallow

Dried marsh mallow seed pods which have split open, revealing their seeds.
Mallow Marsh

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Marsh mallows are usually found in shady, moist areas but on occasion they can be found in sunny, moist areas, too.

To make original marshmallows, peel roots and slice them into thin wafers then boil 20 minutes in minimum amount of water. Remove the root slices, add sugar or other sweetener and boil down fluid until very thick. Whip this hot fluid like egg whites then drop globs onto wax paper, after they've cooled dust them with powdered sugar.

The seeds can be roasted then ground in a coffee grinder for use as a substitute for real coffee. It tastes pretty good, though does not have any caffeine.

Young leaves and tender flower buds can be used to thicken soups, stews, curries, and other sauces. The tender flower buds can also be pickled or fried like okra. Opened flowers can be used in salads or made into tea though these are best the first day they've opened.

The dried root has been used in herbal "tobacco" substitutes.

Privacy & Amazon Paid Promotion Statement

I use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit this website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.

I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. The prices you pay for the item isn't affected, my sales commission comes out of Amazon's pocket.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.