LOVE-in-a-MIST

Nigella damascena

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8blue
inner
inner8green
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
stem
stem8round

24th July 2009, A garden in Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The whole plant is surrounded by a 'mist' of fine wiry green spikes. Note the stem leaves, wiry and twice-pinnate. The bracts under the flower are similar, as are the central green carpels with long wiry upwardly pointing, often twisted spurs.


24th July 2009, A garden in Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
There are five pale-blue pointed petal-looking sepals. The actual petals are minute and clawed and at the base of the dark blue stamens.


24th July 2009, A garden in Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Stamens a deep blue or violet.


24th July 2009, A garden in Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD


24th July 2009, A garden in Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Stamens a deep blue or violet.


31st July 2009, A garden in Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
A double-flowered white form. Pink forma also exist.


17th Aug 2009, A garden in Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The large, 2cm across, fruit.


17th Aug 2009, A garden in Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The large, 2cm across, fruit enveloped in a thin papery shroud, once the petals.


Superficial resemblance to : Pheasant's Eye (which is extinct in the wild), but which is also a member of the same Buttercup Family.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics : there is no other like it.

No relation to : Love-lies-Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) [a plant belonging to the differing Pigweed Family, Amaranthaceae.

Unique amongst the Buttercup Family, Love-in-a-Mist forms seed capsules that are composed of several follicles that unite, each follicle containing seeds. The plant self seeds in much the same place year in year out.

It is found in or near gardens, especially in the South of England.

The ESSENTIAL OIL

The main volatile components of the essential oil are p-Cymene, Thymol, ThymoQuinone, ThymoHydroQuinone, Carvone, Carvacrol and Terpinen-4-ol which taken all together, with the three depicted below, constitute about 40% of the essential oil.


Thymol is a monoterpene isomeric with Carvacrol which are both derivatives of p-Cymene (which is also present in the oil). Thymol is naturally found in Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Wild Thyme (Thymus polytrichus) and Marjorum (Origanum vulgare) and smells aromatically, tastes delicious and has both insecticidal and biocidal properties. Both Thymol and Carvacrol can act as adjuctants, reducing the resistance of bacteria to antibiotic pharmaceuticals such as penicillin. They also have fungicidal properties.



The above two structures are an interesting juxtaposition of both Thymol and para-Quinone, (1,4-BenzoQuinone)) intersecting each other through a common 6-membered ring. Thymoquinone has demonstrable anti-epilectic, analgesic and anti-convulsant effects and can induce apoptosis in certain circumstances, but is so far not used medicinally. Thymohydroquinone is the double hydroxy of ThymoQuinone and also occurs in oil made from the roots of the non-native Arnica (Arnica montana) which is used externally as an ointment and liniment.

A HETERO ALKALOID

Damascenin is a simple poisonous alkaloid present at about 0.5% in the essential oils from Love-in-a-Mist and is the fragrant principle of that oil. It is a proto-alkaloid, meaning an alkaloid that lacks a heterocyclic ring, the nitrogen atom being outside the ring.

A SESQUITERPENE

β-Elemene is a poisonous sesquiterpene present at about 73% in the same oils, and may be effective as a pharmaceutical in prolonging the life in sufferers of lung cancer, but more research is necessary. It is also found in Celery and in Mint, but obviously not in detrimental amounts. Elemene should not be confused with Elemicin, a phenylpropanoid related to Eugenol.


  Nigella damascena  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ranunculaceae  

Distribution
family8Buttercup family8Ranunculaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Nigella
Nigella
(Love-in-a-Mist)

LOVE-in-a-MIST

Nigella damascena

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]  

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