SWEET ALISON

Lobularia maritima

Cabbage Family [Brassicaceae]

month8apr month8april month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8white
 
inner
inner8yellow
 
inner
inner8green
 
inner
inner8purple
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ4
 
type
typeZclustered
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8ribbed
 
smell
smell8fragrant
fragrant

26th Aug 2004, Deganwy, nr Llandudno, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
A mainly coastal naturalised garden plant growing to 30cm on walls and dry sandy shores especially at the foot of walls.


22nd Aug Aug 2007, Deganwy, nr Llandudno, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
Leaves greyish-green with short hairs, long, linear and without teeth (entire) or stalks.


22nd Aug Aug 2007, Deganwy, nr Llandudno, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
Flowers in a compact hemi-spherical cluster at the summit of stems.


7th July 2005, Frodsham coast, north Cheshire, Photo: © RWD
Flowers white with 4 petals. Leaves grey-green.


22nd Aug Aug 2007, Deganwy, nr Llandudno, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
Flowers not in an umbel, although from above it does look like one. Text goes here


18th April 2014, Waterloo, Sefton Coast, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Flowers with four white short and stubby petals often arranged around a rhomboidal central area where the six stamens are arranged in an oval shape.


22nd Aug Aug 2007, Deganwy, nr Llandudno, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
All four petals often in the same flat horizontal plane (unlike those of Horseradish which are cup-shaped).


18th April 2014, Waterloo, Sefton Coast, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Six stamens with yellow anthers arranged in an oval shape around a central style with yellow discoidal terminal stigma.


18th April 2014, Waterloo, Sefton Coast, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Petals spread laterally in a flat plane.


18th April 2014, Waterloo, Sefton Coast, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The filaments of the stamens are green turning bright purple.


22nd Aug Aug 2007, Deganwy, nr Llandudno, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
Seed pods (fruit) flattened but slightly inflated, oval and less than three times as long as are wide. Purple tinged.


22nd Aug Aug 2007, Deganwy, nr Llandudno, North Wales Coast. Photo: © RWD
Lower part of stems are ribbed. Leaves without stalks (petioles).


There are three plants with the common name including 'Alison', all belonging to the Cabbage Family (Brassicaceae) but with each in differing genera :

  • Sweet Alison (Lobularia maritima) The plant on this page
  • Golden Alison (Aurinia saxatilis) with yellow petals.
  • Hoary Alison (Berteroa incana) very hairy with short white hairs.

Easily mis-identified as : Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) which also has 4 white petals (but they are longer and cupped rather than splayed out planar), is about twice as tall, has flowers on longer stalks and many more of them (but like Sweet Alison has 6 yellow stamens) and has very long linear-lanceolate lower leaves (shorter up the stem) that are green rather than the grey-green of Sweet Alison). Sweet Alison has the clustered flowers in a hemisphere whereas Horseradish has them in an elongated cylindrical spike (albeit rounded at the summit).

Some similarities to : Hoary Alison (Berteroa incana) but that has flowers with petals that are nicked to nearly half-way and is now only found growing wild within 60 miles of London. Also to Garden Arabis (Arabis caucaaia) which is also a garden escapee but grows slightly taller (to 40cm) but that has leaves that half encircle the stem (amplexicaul) and are sinuously toothed.

Slight resemblance to : Perennial Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) which also has a (slightly elongated) hemispherical cluster of 4-petalled white flowers but there the outer two of the four petals on each flower are very much longer than the inner two.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

No relation to : Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) [a plant with similar name belonging to a differing family].

It is a sweetly fragrant flower, hence its name.

A neophyte grown in gardens from which it has escaped since the 1800's, inhabiting mainly coastal areas on sea cliffs and sand dunes and the dryer places of sandy shores, especially up against a wall. Less frequently found inland, especially in the central South of England. It is a low growing annual, biennial or perennial. The leaves are grey-green and hairy. Petals usually white, but are sometimes purple. Handling the plant can invoke an allergic reaction in sensitive folk.


  Lobularia maritima  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Brassicaceae  

Distribution
 family8Cabbage family8Brassicaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Lobularia
Lobularia
(Sweet Alison)

SWEET ALISON

Lobularia maritima

Cabbage Family [Brassicaceae]