Alcea...A pink Princeton beauty
(Explore #359: Sep 17, 2008).
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). [...]
Remains of hollyhocks have been found in a Neanderthal burial site at Shanidar.
A stylized, symmetrical hollyhock is the seal of the Tokugawa family in Japan, and is often used as a reference to the era in Japan's history where that family ruled the country. Also known is the character 'Aoi no Ue' (or 'Awoi no Uye' 葵上, 'Lady Hollyhock') from The Tale of Genji.
In the Japanese graphic novels Lone Wolf and Cub the Hollyhock is the seal worn by Ogami Itto, the protagonist of the series, whilst he is in service to the shogun.