One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of numerous Eurasian biennial or short-lived perennial plants of the genus Alcea (family Malvaceae), which have erect stems and large showy flowers and include the hollyhock, A. rosea; (also, in form Alcea) the genus itself. Also: any of various other plants of the family Malvaceae with similar flowers.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in Liber de Diversis Medicinis. From classical Latin alcea kind of mallow (Pliny; also in scientific Latin as Alcea, genus name of the hollyhock (Linnaeus 1753)) from Hellenistic Greek ἀλκαία kind of mallow, use as noun of feminine of ancient Greek ἀλκαῖος, adjective from ἀλκή strength, defence + -αῖος, suffix forming adjectives.
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