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 severe damage from rust infestations, which may be treated with fungicides.