3. Alcea Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 687. 1753.
蜀葵属 shu kui shu
Herbs annual, biennial, or perennial, usually erect, unbranched, most parts stellate pubescent, sometimes mixed with long simple hairs. Leaves long petiolate; leaf blade ovate to suborbicular, angled, weakly lobed, or deeply palmatipartite, margin crenate or dentate, apex acute to obtuse. Flowers axillary, solitary or fascicled, often arranged into terminal racemes. Epicalyx lobes 6 or 7, basally connate. Calyx 5-lobed, ± pubescent. Petals pink, white, purple, or yellow, usually more than 3 cm wide, apex notched. Staminal column glabrous with anthers clustered at apex; anthers yellow and compact. Ovary 15- or more loculed; ovules 1 per locule, erect; styles as many as locules; stigmas decurrent, filiform. Fruit a schizocarp, disk-shaped, fruit axis as long as or shorter than carpels; mericarps more than 15, laterally compressed and circular with a prominent ventral notch, glabrous or pubescent, 2-celled, proximal cell 1-seeded, distal cell sterile. Seed glabrous or pustulose.
About 60 species: C and SW Asia, E and S Europe; two species (one endemic) in China.
The large colorful flowers contribute to the popularity of the plants as cultivated ornamentals. The stems are used as firewood, and the roots are used medicinally.