This week I like to write about a small family here on the British Isles with only 5 species mentioned in Stace, whereby just 2 are native and 3 are introduced species.
I got inspired to write this post as I noticed the Weld plant on a boatyard we visited last week. I love the rosettes of wrinkly leaves and the tall spikes of small flowers.
Another mignonette, not native, called the Garden Mignonette or Reseda odorata is well worth growing due to its lovely scent! I have been growing it in hanging baskets this last season on our allotment for this reason. It is supposed to be annual although it survived last year’s winter!
All the information found is again from various Floras and websites and the links for those are provided. Have utilized the info in our very own Flora of Birmingham and the Black Country this time which is produced by Ecorecord. Pictures by Matt Summers unless stated otherwise.
Reseda luteola or Weld and Dyer’s Rocket, which is also a suitable name I think, is the most common species and an archaeophyte. It is biennial which means it shows its rosettes in the first year and then flowers, sets seeds and dies the following year. From the Flora of B’ham and the B.C. :
‘Typically found on waste land, recently disturbed or recovering from disturbance, and commoner in industrial and inner urban areas than in residential areas. Many records are associated with canal land, disused railways, brickworks, sewage works, landfill sites, country parks, playing fields, etc., on base-rich and fertile, often rubbly soils.’
The plant is rich in luteolin, a flavonoid which produces a bright yellow dye. The yellow could be mixed with the blue from woad (Isatis tinctoria) to produce greens such as Lincoln green. The dye was in use by the first millennium BC, and perhaps earlier than either woad or madder.
It has very little therapeutic tradition except that the combination of volatile oil in the flowers with the flavones and glycosides in the leaves, taken as a tea, is a stimulant to the digestion while relaxing tension.
The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of various butterflies, including the Cabbage White, Bath White and Orange Tip.
The name ‘mignonette’ comes from the French ‘mignon’, meaning ‘dainty’.
In the Language of Flowers mignonette means ‘Your qualities surpass your charms’.
This is an attractive neophythe and has a few records from disturbed ground on post-industrial wasteland in Birmingham and the Black Country.