Tall or dwarf hairy herbs with lobed leaves and axillary solitary or racemose flowers. In-volucel 6- to 9-lobed. Staminal column long, filaments free at the top. Carpels arranged in a regular whorl, 1-seeded, indehiscent. About twelve species, from temperate and warm countries. A. officinalis is the Marsh Mallow. From 4 Althaea 86 to heal or cure.

1. A.rosea (fig. 52). Hollyhock. - This noble plant is the principal ornamental species in this family. It came originally from the Levant, and has been in cultivation about three centuries. It is often treated as a biennial, but it is really perennial. The ordinary single-flowered form, although very beautiful, has been quite superseded in gardens by the many-splendid double-flowered varieties, ranging in colour from white, yellow, rose, and purple to violet and almost black, with every intermediate shade and tint of these colours.

Fig. 52. Althaea rosea. (1/6 nat. size.)

Fig. 52. Althaea rosea. (1/6 nat. size.)

There are many other species of inferior merit, but they are seldom seen in cultivation, except in botanical collections.