the Common Hollyhock
The Hollyhock (Alcea rosea L.) is a herbaceous plant which has been grown as an ornamental garden flower since before the 15th century.
Experts are unsure about its origin, some suggesting the Balkans and others south-west China. It now grows wild in Europe, America and Asia.
Its long stems of up to 2m tall, with a cluster of flowers (or inflorescence) at the top, never cease to surprise. The large solitary flowers grow very close to the stem, opening gradually between May and July. They are normally pink, mauve or white, although there are varieties and cultivars in many other colours.
The Hollyhock thrives in direct sunlight in rich, humid, well-drained soils. This is why in the Alhambra and Generalife it is often found alongside water-channels or irrigation furrows in gardens and vegetable-patches.
Our gardeners, who know it well, usually allow it to grow wherever it happens to germinate; knowing just how beautiful it is and the fact that the part above ground dries up after it blooms and the seeds ripen.