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Species Notebook:

  • Wild Mignonette

    • Wild Mignonette: the yellow mignonette

      Post date: Wednesday, 19 October, 2016 - 21:35

      I associate wild mignonette (Reseda lutea) with chalk grassland. In Hampshire where I lived before crossing the border into Dorset it seemed common on the chalk everywhere but despite a good deal of chalk and limestone in Dorset I have seen this distinctive flower only occasionally. To be fair, on the sites where it does occur it is often quite common. It likes grassland but where the grasses are somewhat sparse.

      The flower head of the wild mignonette is a distinctive spike of pale yellowish-green flowers which are usually, in my experience, rarely more than a foot tall although my field guides indicates that it does grow a fair bit taller. Each plant produces multiple flower spikes which are visible from May until September. The leaves are pale green and are formed of clusters of three pointed lobes. 

      This flower is mildly scented making it popular with small insects and there are a couple of cultivated forms that are grown in gardens. The roots of wild mignonette used to be used to make a yellow dye. 

      As an aside, the name sounds like a raucous 17th Century dance to me!


       

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