Wanting to get out as the weather warms, I frequently walk Colorado foothills trails in April and May. Conspicuous there is wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex.
|All the little yellow flowers are wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex|
Sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima, is a widely cultivated plant, with white or sometimes pink flowers.
|sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima|
Wild alyssum is a relative with yellow, smaller flowers. The confusing names--wild alyssum in the genus Alyssum, while the better-known sweet alyssum has a quite different scientific name, Lobularia--is a common problem for plants; a well-known plant keeps a common name long after its scientific name is changed. Both are in the mustard family, Brassicaceae, and share the basic pattern of their flowers and stems. I am writing "wild alyssum" for clarity, but sources like Ackerfield's Flora of Colorado and the USDA Plants database just give "alyssum" as the common name of Alyssum simplex. It is also known as field alyssum and European madwort.
|wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex, dry fruits|
|Field painted yellow by wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex|
Comments and corrections welcome.
Ackerfield, J. 2015. Flora of Colorado. BRIT Press, Fort Worth, Texas.
Culpeper, N. Culpeper's Complete Herbal. Foulsham Press, online: link
Grieve, Mrs. M. 1971. Originally 1932. A Modern Herbal. Dover Publications, New York. Online link
Lust, J. B. 1974. The Herb Book. Bantam Books, New York.
USDA Plants Database: plants.sc. egov. usda.gov link