Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Erysimum cheiri (L.) Crantz

Fully hardy evergreen perennial, usually grown as a biennial, with open, sweet-scented bright orange-yellow to reddy-brown flowers in late winter to spring.  To 80cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

A very useful bedding plant, numerous garden cultivars exist.  Johnson’s Dictionary lists 14 varieties and Don 11.  According to Don ‘the most remarkable varieties of the common wall-flower are the following: flore simplici, single yellow; flore pleno, double yellow; maximus, large-flowered yellow; serratus, large yellow, saw-leaved; patulous, double yellow, spreading; ferruginous, double rusty; varius, double variegated with purple and yellow; thyrisoides, bunch-flowered, yellow; gynantherus, flowers with anthers changed carpels; haemanthus, single and double bloody-flowered.’  Paxton’s Dictionary, in addition to the above, describes flavescens, yellow; grandiflora, yellow; haemanthus variegatus; purpureus; variegatus, purple; sanguineus, dark brown; and varius, variegated.  The Botanical Register shows a form, ‘Chamelion flowered’, with deep purple buds, opening yellow and fading to almost white.  [BR f.219/1817].  All of these forms are easily recognised today.  In England this ancient garden plant had a number of uses. It was an important source of honey and bee gardens were often planted close to the hives, with wallflowers a useful early season source of nectar.  It also had an important medicinal role, used for treating strained muscles in particular, the seeds being used as a heart tonic. Don also reports an unusual use: ‘Being an acrid and hardy evergreen, it is sometimes sown in pastures along with parsley, thyme, etc. as a preventative of the rot in sheep.’  Introduced to Britain in 1573.  [JD].  Blackwell pl.179/1737.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [H.55/1843].


Published Feb 06, 2009 - 05:25 PM | Last updated Jul 15, 2010 - 04:42 PM

Illustrated is a shoot with long, tapering leaves and single yellow flowers.  Blackwell pl.179, 1737.

Erysimum cheiri (L.) Crantz | Blackwell pl.179/1737 | BHL

Family Brassicaceae
Region of origin

Southern Europe

  • Cheiranthus cheiri L.
Common Name

Wallflower, Gilliflower, Gilli, Bee flower

Name in the Camden Park Record

Cheiranthus cheiri 

Confidence level high