One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(Originally) the common hollyhock, Alcea rosea (family Malvaceae) (now rare or disused); (in later use also) any of several mallows of the genera Lavatera and Malva, now typically cultivated as ornamental plants.
Early 16th century; earliest use found in The Grete Herball. After post-classical Latin malva hortensis.
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