Hollyhocks (Alcea Roses)

Botanical Name: Alcea rosea
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Alcea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Malvales

The scientific name for Hollyhocks is Alcea rosea but used to go by the scientific name Althaea and is still seen that way in garden catalogs on occasion.

Common Name:Hollyhocks

Habitats: Holyhock is native to Eurasia.It grows in Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; and in  Cultivated Beds.Hollyhocks prefer rich, well-drained soil and full sun. Light shade is tolerated but wet winter soil is not….click & see

Holyhock  is a biennial or short-lived perennial plant about 4-8′ tall. The stout central stem is unbranched or sparingly branched; it is light green, terete, and more or less hairy. The blades of the alternate leaves are up to 8″ long and across; they are palmately lobed (with 3-7 blunt lobes each) and crenate along their margins. Each leaf blade is orbicular or oval in outline and indented at the base where the petiole joins the blade. The upper surface of each leaf blade is medium green, slightly pubescent to hairless, and wrinkled from fine veins; the lower surface is light green and pubescent. The petioles of the leaves are as long or a little longer than their blades; they are light green and hairy..
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The central stem terminates in a spike-like raceme of flowers; axillary flowers are produced from the axils of the upper leaves as well. These flowers occur individually or in small clusters along the central stem; they nod sideways from short hairy pedicels. Each flower spans about 3-5″ when it is fully open; it has 5 petals, 5 sepals, 6-9 sepal-like bracts, and a columnar structure in the center with the reproductive organs (stamens toward the tip, thread-like stigmas below). The overlapping petals provide the flower with a funnelform shape; they are usually some shade of white, pink, or purplish red. The sepals are light green, ovate, and much smaller than the petals. The bracts of each flower are located underneath the sepals; they are light green, hairy, ovate, and joined together at the base. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer into the fall; a colony of plants will bloom for about 2 months. Each flower is replaced by a fruit containing a ring of 15-20 seeds (technically, a schizocarp). These seeds are oval, flattened, and notched on one side. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.

Species: There are about 60 species of Alcea, including:

Alcea acaulis
Alcea biennis (syn. A. pallida)
Alcea calvertii
Alcea ficifolia — Antwerp hollyhock
Alcea flavovirens
Alcea grossheimii — Grossheim’s alcea
Alcea heldreichii
Alcea kurdica
Alcea lavateriflora
Alcea litwinowii
Alcea longipedicellata
Alcea nudiflora
Alcea pallida
Alcea rhyticarpa
Alcea rosea — common hollyhock
Alcea rugosa
Alcea setosa — bristly hollyhock
Alcea sosnovskyi
Alcea striata
Alcea sulphurea

Hardiness Zones: Hollyhocks are hardy in zones 2-10.

Uses in the Garden: Perfect for planting in the back of borders, for old cottage gardens, cut flower gardens, humming bird beds or fence borders.

Cultivation details:
Succeeds in most soils. Poor soils should be enriched with organic matter. Prefers a heavy rich soil and a sheltered sunny position.Plants are hardy to about -15°c.A very ornamental plant, it is usually grown as a biennial due to its susceptibility to the fungal disease ‘rust’. There are many named varieties.Young plants, and also the young growth in spring, are very attractive to slugs. The preference is full to partial sun, moist to mesic conditions, and a fertile loamy soil. Lower leaves will wither away during hot dry weather. Hollyhock is vulnerable to foliar disease, including rust.

Seed – sow April/May or August/September in pots or in situ[200, 238]. Easily grown from seed, which usually germinates in about 2 – 3 weeks at 20°c[133, 268]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.Division after flowering. Only use rust-free specimens.Root cuttings in December.Basal cuttings at almost any time of year

Medicinal Uses:
Antiinflammatory; Astringent; Demulcent; Diuretic; Emollient; Febrifuge.

Hollyhock is stated to be an emollient and laxative. It is used to control inflammation, to stop bed-wetting and as a mouthwash in cases of bleeding gums .

The flowers are demulcent, diuretic and emollient. They are useful in the treatment of chest complaints, and a decoction is used to improve blood circulation, for the treatment of constipation, dysmenorrhoea, haemorrhage etc. The flowers are harvested when they are open and are dried for later use.
The shoots are used to ease a difficult labour. The root is astringent and demulcent. It is crushed and applied as a poultice to ulcers. Internally, it is used in the treatment of dysentery. The roots and the flowers are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are said to have a sweet, acrid taste and a neutral potency. They are used in the treatment of inflammations of the kidneys/womb, vaginal/seminal discharge, and the roots on their own are used to treat loss of appetite.
The seed is demulcent, diuretic and febrifuge.The flowers are used in the treatment of repiratory and inflammatory ailments and the root extracts to produce marshmallow sweets.

Other Uses
Compost; Dye; Litmus; Oil; Paper.
A fibre obtained from the stems is used in papermaking. The fibres are about 1.9mm long. The stems are harvested in late summer, the leaves are removed and the stems are steamed until the fibres can be removed. The fibres are cooked with lye for 2 hours and then ball milled for 3 hours or pounded with mallets. The paper is light tan in colour.

The flowers are an alternative ingredient of ‘Quick Return’ herbal compost activator. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost.The seed contains 12% of a drying oil.The red anthocyanin constituent of the flowers is used as a litmus.A brown dye is obtained from the petals.
Hollyhocks are tolerant of black walnut toxins and, like Polemonium plants, can be planted near and around black walnut trees where other plants will not grow.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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