05 June 2008

Hollyhocks

Alcea Rosea's everyday name is Hollyhock. There is nothing every day looking about its buds, flowers, leaves or seed pods. The old fashioned singles are still my favorite though there are doubles that look like peony flowers.

Prairie Mallow is called a miniature Hollyhock but does not really resemble the 4-foot tall cousin that takes 2-years to bloom.

The Streambank Wild Hollyhock is actually Iliamna rivularis - not an Alcea at all.

The resemblance is their plant family, the Mallows. Another relative is Abelmoschus Medik. or okra which some people grow for its flowers and others grow for its fruit.

Another significant collection of relatives is all the Hibiscus Genus including Hardy Hibiscus or Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus . This particular relative has a habit of spreading seed everywhere and is disliked by some gardeners because it takes its time leafing out in the spring.

Althea L. marshmallow is widely used by herbalists for soothing the respiratory (coughs and sore throat) and digestive system (stomach acid).

Hibiscus coccineus, Red Star Hibiscus is a zone 7, part-shade perennial.


The one quality all these Mallows have in common is ease of growth. They persist through cold, heat, rain and drought.
Wintersown has the scoop on seed saving tips.

Which ones are you growing?

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