Polysaccharides are suitable for application as hydrophilic matrices because of their ability to hydrate and swell upon contact with fluids, forming a gel layer which controls drug release. When extracted from plants, polysaccharides often contain significant quantities of starch that impacts upon their functional properties. This study aimed to evaluate differences in swelling, erosion and drug release from matrix tablets prepared from grewia gum (GG) and starch-free grewia gum (GDS) extracted from the stems of Grewia mollis. HPMC was used as a control polymer with theophylline as a model drug. Swelling, erosion, and in-vitro release were performed in deionized water, pH 1.2 and pH 6.8 media. The Vergnaud and Krosmeyer-Peppas model were used for swelling and drug release kinetics, respectively. However, linear regression technique was used to determine the erosion rate. GDS compacts were significantly harder than the native GG and HPMC compacts. GDS matrices exhibited the fastest erosion and drug release in deionised water and phosphate buffer compared with the GG and HPMC. At pH 1.2, GDS exhibited greater swelling than erosion, and drug release was similar to GG and HPMC. This highlights the potential of GDS as a matrix for controlled release similar to HPMC and GG at pH 1.2 but with a more rapid release at pH 6.8. GDS may have wider application in reinforcing compacts with relatively low mechanical strength.