Alcea rosea (common hollyhock) is an ornamental plant in the Malvaceae family. It was imported into Europe from southwestern China during, or possibly before, the 15th century. Alcea rosea is variously described as a biennial (having a two-year life cycle) or as a short-lived perennial. It frequently self-sows, which may create a perception that the plants are perennial. The flowers grow on rigid, towering spikes or spires which typically reach a height of 5-8' (1-3m) tall and usually do not require staking. Foliage features large, heart-shaped (3, 5 or 7 lobes), rough lower leaves which become progressively smaller toward the top of the spire. Long bloom period of June to August. There is a large range of colours from white to dark red, including pink, yellow and orange. Different colours prefer different soils.