Any plant of, or formerly of, the Eurasian genus Althaea (family Malvaceae), comprising herbaceous perennial plants which include the marsh mallow, A. officinalis, the hollyhock, Alcea rosea, and (more fully "shrub althea") the widely cultivated hibiscus Hibiscus syriacus. Also (in form Althaea): the genus itself.
Valid publication of the genus name: H. J. N. Crantz Stirpium Austriacarum (1769) 144.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in John Trevisa (c1342–?1402), translator. From classical Latin althaea marsh mallow from Hellenistic Greek ἀλθαία marsh mallow from the stem of ancient Greek ἀλθαίνειν to heal (ultimately from the same Indo-European base as classical Latin alere to nourish) + -ία; so called on account of the healing properties of the plant.