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(also Althaea), a genus of biennial or perennial herbs of the family Malvaceae. The alternate leaves are entire or serrate-lobed. The flowers are solitary or in groups in the leaf axils. About 60 species occur in the Eastern Mediterranean region. They are raised as ornamentals and for their nectar. The holly-hock (A. rosea) reaches 250 cm in height and has large, often double, flowers. The coloration of the flowers may be black-red, violet, pink, or white. Cultivated forms are used in floriculture. The plants thrive under most conditions, and they have a long flowering period. The black-red petals are used for coloring wines, liqueurs, and fabrics. The dried flowers are used medicinally in the form of teas as an emolient and for poultices. The stems yield a coarse fiber used to manufacture ropes, twines, and sackcloth.