Other Names Sweet alyssum, Sweet Alison, madwort, healbite, sweet Alice, seaside lobularia, gum alison and Mary’s cushion.
Sweet alyssum is an annual native to the Mediterranean area which is popular with modern gardeners. The plant is low growing, about 20 cm tall, with dense clusters of tiny flowers in white, lavender or pink and a sweet scent.
History and Folklore
Sweet alyssum used to be categorized in the Alyssum genus. This is why it retains the name alyssum. It is a member of the family Brassicaceae, the mustard family.
Once upon a time, alyssum was used as a treatment for the bites of rabid animals. The name alyssum comes from the Greek meaning “without madness”.
In the language of flowers, sweet alyssum means “worth beyond beauty”.
Alyssum is a pretty little annual flower that grows well from seed and works wonderfully in rock gardens, makes a great ground cover and makes a pretty edge to the flower bed. It likes soil with good drainage and tolerates poor soil and dry soil conditions well. Sow seeds about 8 inches apart in a sunny spot as soon as the danger of frost has passed. Cover lightly with soil and water them in. Alyssum blooms around midsummer and continues to bloom all summer. If it stops blooming, give it a trim to encourage move flowers. It may reseed and come back next year if you let it be.
Consider planting sweet alyssum around any plants that have trouble with aphids. The sweet scent attracts hoverflies and ladybugs which love to eat aphids.
Sweet alyssum resonates with the air element and the planet Mercury and is said to be protective against glamour spells and hexes. Plant it around the house to deflect spells intended to mislead you. The sweet scent evokes peaceful energy and spiritual and emotional balance. Wear a sprig on your lapel or carry one in your pocket to prevent and calm angry encounters.
Sweet alyssum is a wonderful addition to both moon gardens and faerie gardens.
Sweet alyssum is associated with the virgin Mary.
Although alyssum was once used for animal bites and rabies, it has no particular medical use today.
Alyssum can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.
Alyssum is a member of the mustard family with a characteristic mustardy taste. It isn’t often used as a food, but it is edible.