|Picture Notes: All of these examples of Hollyhocks (Figs. 01-03) were observed on 05/22/2010, while touring the grounds of the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort located in downtown Las Vegas, at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington Avenue. The adobe fort was built by a group of Mormon missionaries along Las Vegas Creek in 1855. Several of these plants were over 6 feet tall. I want to give thanks to my friend “Buster” Brown for helping me to identify this plant. In trying to identify this plant, I was reminded that I never created a page for my visit to the fort, and have since added it to my to-do list.|
|Description: Bristly Hollyhock (Alcea setosa), a.k.a. Common Hollyhock, is a genus of about 60 species of flowering plants in the mallow family Malvaceae. They are biennial or short-lived perennial plants, prominent in its height growing to 11 feet tall, with broad, rounded, palmately lobed leaves and numerous flowers (pink or yellow in the wild species) on an erect, single central stem, covered by stellate hairs. As spring nears, impressively colored and large flowers are arranged along its tall inflorescence stalk making them quite visible from a good distance. The leaves are carried on a long petiole. The blade is emarginate with a diameter of 6-8 inches. The leaf margin is smooth or dentate.|
The bisexual flowers of Bristly Hollyhock are single and large, with a diameter of approximately 4 inches. The external involucre, which envelopes the sepals, is a calycle. This is a green and fused involucre with 6-9 lobes. The length of the involucre is almost identical to that of the calyx. There are 5 sepals and 5 petals. The corolla is pink, purple-violet and emarginate at its head. Sometimes the base of the corolla has a different color than the rest of the petal. There are numerous stamens and they are fused into a prominent yellow tube in the center of the flower. The stamen filaments are fused almost to the anthers. The pollen is sticky. Insects, especially bees, visit the flower and clumps of sticky pollen adhere to them. These will be passed, via the insect’s body, to another flower, and fertilization will take place.
This is an imported plant that is it native to most regions of Israel, in the Mediterranean area, on mountains and abandoned fields. In America, Hollyhocks are popular garden ornamental plants. Its normally pink flowers are numerous and large, yet may be deep red, dark purple, red and white. Flowering between April and June, 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 for only a few years, within that time it will produce many seeds to generate further plants. In the summer, the schizocarp degrades and the seeds are dispersed. When rain falls, the seeds germinate causing new plants to decorate the landscape. They have very long taproots. The stems can be used as firewood, and the roots can be used medicinally.