100_6270 Gobi Desert Beauty :: First White Hollyhock of 2011 - Explored
First White Hollyhock of 2011
It's early morning... This first flower along the Hollyhock stalk has not fully opened... That hasn't slowed down the pollen production. The blooms start at the bottom of the stalk and higher flowers open progressively. A good survival strategy to lengthen the sexual reproduction season...
They grow very well in Tucson... They will self seed. To grow them, you scatter seed on the ground where you want the plants to grow. The seed needs sunlight to sprout, so you must not bury it. The seed can be scattered any time of year in Tucson. The plants do die back in hard frosts, but the roots are quite hardy. Hollyhocks (San Jose in Spanish) are biennials, meaning they bloom the second year after sprouting. However i have seen a number of plants bloom the first year.
Hollyhocks vary in color, plant to plant, from dark magenta to crimson to pink to white. This white beauty is a Hollyhock flower in my garden. Hollyhocks have always been one of my favorite flowers. My Grandmother raised them in the family summer home in Sea Gate, in Brooklyn, New York City, which is at the western tip of Long Island...
They are featured in gardens in Massachusetts, especially in Marblehead. They were brought to new England by the sea captains in the "China Trade." I have read they were native to the Gobi Desert in Central China...
Specie: Alcea rosea—Common Hollyhock
The hollyhocks comprise about 60 species of flowering plants in the genus Alcea (Ál-ce-a) in the mallow family Malvaceae, native to southwest and central Asia. They are biennial or short-lived perennial plants growing to 3.5 m tall, with broad, rounded, palmately lobed leaves and numerous flowers, pink or yellow in the wild species, on the erect central stem.
Alcea species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Bucculatrix quadrigemina and the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).
Alcea rosea (Common Hollyhock; syn. Althaea chinensis Wall., Althaea ficifolia Cav., Althaea rosea Cav.) is an ornamental plant in the Malvaceae family.
It was imported into Europe from China in the sixteenth century. William Turner, an herbalist of the time, gave it the name "holyoke" from which the English name derives.
Alcea rosea is a hardy perennial, and once established should flower for many years. It will grow in a wide range of soils, and can easily reach a height of about 8 ft. The flowers are a range of colours from white to dark red, including pink, yellow and orange. Different colours prefer different soils. The darker red variety seems to favour sandy soils, while the lighter colour seems to favour clay soils. The plants are easily grown from seed, and readily self-seed. However, tender plants, whether young from seed or from old stock, may be wiped out by slugs and snails. The foliage is subject to attack from rust (Puccinia malvacearum), which may be treated with fungicides. Commercial growers have reported that some varieties (Alcea rugosa and Alcea ficifolia) are resistant to this fungus.
Hollyhocks are popular garden ornamental plants, cultivars selected, particularly from A. rosea. The flowers have been selected for variations in colour, with dark purple, red and white-flowered plants available in addition to the colours found in wild plants.
Hollyhocks are very drought resistant, and do well in full sun locations that might be too hot or dry for other plants. They produce large, flat coin-shaped seeds (1/2" diameter) that seem to grow easily wherever they drop. While an individual plant might only live a handful of years, by that time chances are good it will leave plenty of descendants. They have very long taproots which make transplanting difficult.
Tags: Hollyhock Alcea Althea Rosea "Alcea Rosea" "Althea Rosea"