Beautiful Colors of the Hollyhock

June 25, 2021



Photographer: Menashe Davidson

Summary Author: Menashe Davidson

Alcea setosa (Bristly Hollyhock) is prominent in springtime in the Middle East. Its impressively colored and large flowers are arranged along a conspicuous, inflorescent stalk (top photo). I’ve been able to domesticate this wild plant in my garden apartment (growing them in containers) in Rishon LeZion, Israel.  

Each flower extends about 3-5 inches (7.5-12.5 cm) when its fully open. Overlapping petals allow the flower to attain the shape of a funnel that acts to guide pollinators toward the flower’s interior, where its reproductive organs and nectar are found (bottom photo). Each individual flower has both male and female organs (hermaphroditic). But the flowers avoid self-pollination by having the male and female organs mature at different times. So, by the time the female is receptive, the pollen of the same flower is gone, and only pollen from another flower can do the job. Photos taken on April 2, 2021.