Sunday, May 30, 2010

hardly humble hollyhocks!

hollyhock botanical: althaea rosea (LINN.) family: n.o. malvaceae -- Synonym -- garden hollyhock -- Part Used -- flowers
althaea rosea, the hollyhock is my favorite flower of all time! its name is from the greek word althaea, meaning, "that which heals."  the hollyhock, first brought to this country from china, was once eaten as a pot-herb, though it is not particularly palatable.
its flowers are employed medicinally for their emollient, demulcent and diuretic properties, which make them useful in chest complaints. Their action is similar to marshmallow. the flowers are also used for coloring purposes.  they are sold freed from the calyx and should be gathered in july and early august, when in full bloom, and dried in trays, in thin layers, in a current of warm air immediately after picking.  when dry, they are a deep, purplish-black, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, united with the stamens, which form a tube, the one-celled, reniform anthers remaining free.

the flowers by robert louise stevenson
all the names I know from nurse: 
gardener's garters, shepherd's purse, 
bachelor's buttons, lady's smock,
and the Lady Hollyhock.
fairy places, fairy things,
fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
tiny trees for tiny dames--
these must all be fairy names!
the following recipe for hollyhock sandwiches was suggested by denise diamond in her book living with flowers. -- 10 large hollyhock blossoms, 2 avacados, sliced thinnly, 10 pieces mild cheese, 2 cups alfalfa sprouts, now layer avacado and cheese over blossoms. top with sprouts and your favorite dressing, and as julia would say, bon appetit!