15 June 2008


These hollyhocks were planted three years ago from starter plants bought at a local greenhouse. And they're just now blooming for the first time. I find myself at a fascinating loss as I've no experience of hollyhocks. So, I've consulted the usual places and discovered some interesting tidbits.

Mrs. Grieve says: Its flowers are employed medicinally for their emollient, demulcent and diuretic properties, which make them useful in chest complaints. Their action is similar to Marshmallow.
On closer inspection I realized that my variety of hollyhock is different from the more common garden variety which looks like a hibiscus bloom as opposed to ours that look very much like carnations to my eyes.

So, on I looked and learned from
Henriette's Herbal
that our hollyhock is an alcea rosea of the filled variety as opposed to the simple hibiscus-like variety. According to Henriette: The root of this plant, as well as of each of the below mentioned plants described as substitutes, is demulcent and diuretic, and may be used indiscriminately, the one for the other. They will be found valuable, in the form of decoction, in diseases of the mucous tissues, as hoarseness, catarrh, pneumonia, gonorrhoea, vesical catarrh, renal irritation, acute dysentery, and diarrhoea. In strangury, inflammation of the bladder, hematuria, retention of urine, some forms of gravel, and indeed in nearly every affection of the kidney and bladder, their use will be found advantageous.

I also learned that, unsurprisingly, most varieties of hollyhocks require staking of some kind. My mother tells me that her past hollyhocks grew well along a fence or against a wall but these current blossoms are so big they must be adding quite a bit of weight to the plant stem. So, since they're already drooping pretty low I'm going to give them support. I find these luscious, creamy carnation-like flowers quite intriguing and look forward to getting to know this plant and perhaps take advantage of some of its medicinal qualities, especially its use in cases of diarrhea as I tend to be prone to it. It seems like it would be a gentle, calming aid and I feel this way simply because I've begun to get to know the plant. I have a feeling I have found a new plant friend.


R.E. said...

Oh, beautiful hollyhocks. You are right, they do remind me of double carnations. What a lovely summer solstice gift from your garden. :)


Livia Indica said...

Yep, they could almost be worn as a corsage flower except they're really big and heavy. Thanks for commenting on my little blog.