In message .com, La
Alcea ficifolia/Alcea rosea
Majority opinion says they should be treated as members of a single species
. Ordinary clay soil is not a problem .
Gardenbanter said that the 'minority says they should be treated ....'.
Have you grown Hollyhocks before Rupert?
Clapham, Tutin & Warburg separate Alcea rosea and Alcea ficifolia. That
is the only "recent" botanical work that I know of that separates the
two forms. (They also have Alcea x cultorum for hybrid A. rosea x
The taxonomy of hollyhocks is surprisingly poorly known - there may be
as many as 70 species, mostly found in Turkey, northern Iraq and Iran.
Wild (as opposed to feral) populations of A. rosea are not reliably
known. CTW suggest that A. rosea is of hybrid origins, of the parentage
A. pallida x A. setosa. I have my doubts about A. setosa as a parent -
reading between the lines of various Middle Eastern floras it's rather
distantly related to A. pallida. (If I manage to get both species
flowering perhaps I'll be able to try hybridising them.)
I suspect that A. rosea is a compilospecies, with contributions from
several species. I am fairly confident that the Ficifolia types at least
have A. rugosa blood in them (the one published DNA sequence for A.
rosea is nearly identical to one for A. rugosa) and it is known that
some others (e.g. 'Majorette') were obtained by (back)crossing to A.
I'm pretty sure that the claims that A. rosea originated in China and A.
ficifolia in Siberia are errors.
Stewart Robert Hinsley