red hollyhock

Botanical: Alcea Roseae

Family: Family: Malvaceae

parts used: mainly flowers, but also roots, seeds, and leaves

used for: anti-inflammatory, demulcent, diuretic, emollient

common names: Common Garden Hollyhock, Derives, Common Hollyhock, Garden Mallow and Garden Hollyhock

The tall blooming spires of the hollyhock have graced cottage gardens since its introduction in the 16th century. A biennial or short-lived perennial, it grows to a height of 1.2-2.5m (4-8ft), and bears oversized round leaves and large flowers of white, pink, purple, red or yellow arranged in spikes. Hollyhock requires little more than well-drained soil and full sun, blending well with any colour scheme to create a visually
arresting display. Its height makes it an effective screen plant to hide compost heaps or fences. It attracts bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, is hardy almost everywhere and self-seeds, tenaciously returning year after year.[1]

Hollyhock is a tall herb with short serrated leaves and a flattened round fruit that looks like a presliced cake. The flowers, leaves and particularly the tough but pliable roots are the parts most often used medicinally. The genus name comes from a Greek word meaning “to heal.” Our ancient ancestors billed all mallows as cures for just about any affliction.[2]

Uses for Hollyhock

Culinary Use of Hollyhock

Hollyhocks are members of the Malvaceae family; they are related to the mallow and hibiscus and have uses very simlilar to these herbs.

Culpeper, writing his Complete herbal in the 17th states:

“This species of mallows is of the nature of Common Marsh -mallows, but less mollifying; it is mostly used in gargles for the swelling of the tonsils, and the relaxation of the uvula. All the parts of the plant have a rough and austere taste, but more especially the root, which is of a very binding nature, and may be used to advantage both inwardly and outwardly, for incontinence of urine, immoderate menses, bleeding wounds, spitting of blood, the bloody-flux, and other fluxes of the belly. It is also of efficacy in a spongy state of the gums, attended with looseness of the teeth, and soreness in the mouth. Dried and reduced to powder, or boiled in wine, and partaken of freely, it prevents miscarriage, helps ruptures, dissolves coagulated blood from falls, blows, &c., and kills worms in children.”

Hollyhocks have been used in a variety of ways. In the middle ages, a tea made from Hollyhocks was used to fight lung and bladder disease. It is still used by herbalists for this purposes. It is also used to ease the symptoms of constipation, ulcers and inflammation of the skin (Hollyhock is a frequent ingredient in skin lotions). It is also thought that Hollyhocks can be used to break up and help pass kidney stones.[3]

Therapeutic uses include relief from bronchitis, gastritis, intestinal and oral inflammations, and sore throat. It also helps with various disorders of the digestive system.

Hollyhock Tisane


  • 2 tbsps of freshly picked flowers
  • ½ tbsps chopped dried root
  • ½ tbsps seeds
  • 2 tbsp chamomile or lemon balm, chopped
  • 2 pints boiling water
  • honey to sweeten


  1. Put the ingredients into a large pan and pour over the boiling water.
  2. Allow the mixture to steep for 20 mins to ½ an hour and then strain and drink in small cupfuls, twice or three times a day.

To support healing of burns: Hollyhock root and stems cools the burn, blister and also lowers the swelling as well as pain. It also hydrates the affected areas.

It is considered the most mucilaginous of the diuretics, and it is recommended to soothe irritation in the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines as well as those of the urinary apparatus. In addition, it is recommended for inflammation of the bowels, irritation of the bladder, and acute painful cystitis.[4]

Dose: root: cold infusion or fresh tincture [1:2] as needed herb: cold infusion as needed, or moistened for poultice.[5]

Works Cited:

  • Richters, Herb plants, seeds, books, dried herbs
  • The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook, Dr. Jame Duke
  • Drew, A. J. A Wiccan Formulary and Herbal. 2005. The Career Press, Inc. Franklin Lakes, N.J.
  • Practical Herbalism, Philip Fritchey, MH, ND, CNHP
  • Michael Moore Materia Medica 5.0
  • Evaluation of Genetic Diversity of Iranian Wild Althaea Roseae Population Using RAPD, http://www.idosi.org/wasj/wasj13(5)/39.pdf

The Ready Store
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease" ~ Thomas Jefferson