(Althaea rosea) A 17th century recipe for the manufacture of a fairy salve reads "an unguent to anoint under the eyelids, and upon the eyelids, evening and morning: take a pint of sallet-oyle, and put it into a vialle-glass; but first wash it with rose-water and marygold water; the flower [to] be gathered towards the east. Wash it till the oyle come white; then put thereto the budds of holyhocke, the flowers of marygoldm the flowers or tops of wild thime, the budds of young hazel: and the thime must be gathered near the side of a hill where Fayries use to be; and "take" the grasse of a fayrie throne [i.e., ring] there. All these put into the oyle, into the glasse: and set it to dissolve three dayes in the sunne, and then keep it for thy use, it supra". After this there follows a form of incantation, conjuring a fairy named "Elaby Gathon" to appear in the glass, "meekly and mildly to resolve him truly in all manner of question; and to be obedient to all his commands under pain of Damnation" (L Spence. 1946 and 1949).
Fibre from the stalks has been used for cloth manufacture. In the 1830s, about 280 acres near Flint were planted with hollyhocks. It also yields a blue dye (Northcote), and the darker varieties green (Usher). In its native China it is grown as an economic plant, the stem being like hemp, the dried petals as the source of a blue-black dye, the leaves as a potherb, the flowers as vegetables, and the boiled roots as a popular remedy for chest troubles (Whittle & Cook).
Dried hollyhock flower tea is good for a cold (H M Hyatt), and it is still prescribed for bronchitis, and sometimes as a laxative (Fluck), and the plant is one of the ingredients of an early leechdom for lung diseases (Cockayne). The root decoction, Hill said, "is good in the gravel", and the same decoction, Lupton wrote, "with honey and butter, being drank, doth marvellously ease the pain of the colic and of the back". Gerard only observed that "the decoction of the floures, especially those of the red "(of course, for this is a doctrine of signatures remedy) "doth stop the overmuch flowing of the monethly courses, if they be boiled in red wine" (red, again).
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