Reseda luteola

Mignonette Family [Resedaceae]  

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1st Aug 2004, Bombsite, Central Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Grows on waste ground up to 6 or 8 feet tall - much taller than Wild Mignonette, although most specimens are about 5 feet high. Long narrow sinuous stems which are normally highly contorted covered in a long inflorescence over most of their upper length, the lower length is covered in long narrow leaves.

2nd July 2015, Formby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
These two specimens were side by side, concurrent, and yet slightly differing colour of green, the left one paler than the right, although it could be a trick of the light.

23rd Aug 2015, bus stop, East Lancs Rd, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
They often branch fairly near the top.

6th July 2014, sand pit, Marshside, Southport, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Branches near the top.

26th Aug 2002, River Mersey, Stockport. Photo: © RWD
Likely to be found in industrial areas - it was grown for the green dye it yields. Never seems to grow straight up, but bends and twists in graceful curves. This is most likely due to its ability to follow the sun which it does even when the sun is behind clouds! The stem is covered in flowers or green seeds all along its upper length. The lower part of the stem bears the leaves. Unlike the stems of the otherwise similar Wild Mignonette, those of Weld are multiply branched along their considerable length.

1st Aug 2004, Bombsite, Central Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Young plants are low with long snaking stems covered in small creamy white flowers coming to a point at the tip.

1st July 2005, River Esk, Eskdale Valley. Photo: © RWD
The flowers hug the stem much closer than do those of the related Wild Mignonette. The tips all bent facing the direction of the sun (behind clouds).

7th July 2005, Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Seems to like growing in marshy ground but avoiding canals. The stems are long and thin but stiff, often growing in contorted shapes as if it was an electric-arc welding rod that someone has accidentally welded to the work-piece. Maybe that is where it got its common name, weld:-)

22nd June 2007, Bridgewater Canal, Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Flowers in a raceme on short stalks held close to the stem.

22nd June 2007, Bridgewater Canal, Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are atypical. There is an upper deeply lobed four or five fingered whitish cowl. Below this is a double ring of creamy yellow anthers, within which are nestled three green bodies.

22nd June 2007, Bridgewater Canal, Manchester. Photo: © RWD
A few green sepals support the lower half of the flower. The main stem is slightly fluted.

6th Aug 2009, Dyserth, Prestatyn, N. Wales. Photo: © RWD
The four green sepals and ribbed stem clearly visible.

4th July 2015, Leasowe Lighthouse, Moreton, Wirral. Photo: © RWD
The zygonorphic flowers have 4 green sepals shorter than the flowers and 4 pale cream petals which are deeply-cut and forked into three long, narrow, well-separated strips; the top-most being slightly longer and wider than the others and with more 'fingers' (3 to 5). Within these are concentric rings of stamens with pale-yellow dumbbell-shaped anthers. In the centre are three long, green, nearly-cylindrical bodies (carpels?). Your Author has never seen anything resembling a style in the flowers.

4th July 2015, Leasowe Lighthouse, Moreton, Wirral. Photo: © RWD
Like Wild Mignonette, which is in the same genus (Reseda) the flowers have 3 carpels comprising the ovary - the 3 greenish object in the centre of the flower. The yellowish objects are the anthers.

11th June 2016, Cronton ex-Colliery reserve, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Let it all hang out... Anthers hanging out with each other leaving the 3 green carpels in the centre now stranded.

6th July 2014, sand pit, Marshside, Southport, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Between the three nipple-pointed sepals are three much shorter pinkish-orange bits which curl over (look at the stem at the top). Your Author mistakenly assumed that these enlarged to become spheres, but this is not so, they are cup-shaped hemispheres.

10th Sept 2007, Plank Lane, Leigh, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Here the paler-green cup-shaped hemispheres between the 3 pointed things are just flaps which fold over into the middle of the flower. Between them can be seen black seeds.

4th Aug 2014, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Orangey flaps which have folded over were lime-green before: they are not spheres as your Author once thought!

4th Aug 2014, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The three orangey flaps do indeed look spherical, but they are just flaps that have curled over into the centre of the flower. The seeds themselves are visible here as elongated brownish objects between these flaps (they will later become more spherical as they develop further.

20th Aug 2014, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The gaps between the 3 pale-orange flaps reveal the still developing blackish seeds within. They become more round as they develop, but will still be slightly asymmetrical. The seed in the bottom left flower is slightly more developed.

4th Aug 2014, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The pseudo-spherical orangey flaps are covered in small round pimples like golf-balls.

(The deeper-orange flaps of Wild Mignonette are the top part of a 'cylindrical' rather than 'spherical' cup).

1st Aug 2004, WWII bombsite, Northern Quarter, Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The lower part of the upper stem has spent flowers. The orangey flaps have turned green again and are now seen to be the flaps they were all along which are now curved over a bit less than they were before.

22nd June 2007, Bridgewater Canal, Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are darker green, shiny, narrow linear. Near the ground several flowering side-shoots are developing. The leaves are pinnately-lobed but the side-lobes are few and near the base of the leaf.

18th April 2014, track around Alt Rifle Range, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Basal rosette of Weld (the centre rosette only; the others either side are probably of an Asteraceae). Shiny dark-green leaves, narrow, nearly linear, crisped and wrinkled like angled aluminium tent pegs (although not as crinkled at the edges as is more usual for Weld). Prominent white mid-rib.


 Mutations Menu

8th June 2008, Tennyson Down, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
With multiple flower-spikes peeling off the main stem near the summit. They are starting to curl around in circles like the two nearest the top.

8th June 2008, Tennyson Down, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
Weld is normally sinuous, but never like this. The topmost spike has also split into two spikes.

8th June 2008, Tennyson Down, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
Another example, this one with a more-convincing wide inflorescence more typical of fasciation. There are also many more leaves than what is normal, a proliferation of linear leaves.

8th June 2008, Tennyson Down, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
Although it is wide from one angle, it will be of normal width from an angle 90° to this.

Some flower books relate that Weld is alternatively called Dyers Greenwood, but most books report that Dyers Greenwood is Dyer's Broom or Genista Tinctoria. Weld was indeed used commercially to yield a lemon yellow dye, just as Dyers Greenwood (Genista Tinctoria) was used to yield a green dye - and this is perhaps where the confusion has arisen. Weld grows at great speed to 6 feet tall, hence the synonym Dyers Rocket. A great many different flowers were used as dyes at one time.

Easily confused with : Wild Mignonette, but Weld is much taller, and also much more slender in relation to its height. There are other differences mentioned in the photo captions.

Lookee Likees: There is a similar but alien plant called  Caylusea abysinnica which is found in Ethiopean Niger birdseed mixes. It has similar flower spikes, but perhaps a little less dense and a little wider. The leaves of which are not dark green but rather bright green and branch at ±60°. The inflorescences are not sinuous as they are in Weld but much straighter, continuing in a straight line from the branched stems, at whichever angle they emerge from the main stem at, and the main stems are similarly ribbed cum grooved. The flowers are very similar, they droop downwards at an angle from short stalks but they have many long thin white 'petals', similarly short sepals, drooping anthers (although possibly not as many) but overall they appear whiter from afar rather than the pale greeny-cream of the Weld inflorescence.

  This plant was once grown commercially for the deep yellow dye luteolin, a flavonoid, which can be extracted, mostly from the seeds. This dye is a very stable pigment used for dying both wool and silk since ancient times. Luteolin in the human body acts as an anti-oxidant and is a moderator of the human immune system. Luteolin is also called Luteoline, Digitoflavone and Flacitran. The yellow dye can also be admixed with the blue dye obtained from Woad (Isatis tinctoria) which produces green dyes, such as Lincoln Green (and Kendal Green?).

  Weld also contains another flavonoid and natural yellow dye, Apigenin.

  and yet another natural yellow dye, the methoxy flavonoid Chrysoeriol, which exhibits vasodilatory and hypotensive properties. It is a relatively minor component of the dyes within Weld, and is not usually mentioned.

Weld is heliotropic and follows the Sun around the horizon during the day, even when the Sun is behind clouds! It knows, you know... This must be one reason why the upper parts develop a sinuous and twisted stance. It is glabrous (without hairs) and biennial, often growing near the sea and preferring base-rich soils growing in open, grassy, arable lands, disturbed or waste places. It is an archaeophyte.

  Reseda luteola  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Resedaceae  

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Reseda luteola

Mignonette Family [Resedaceae]  

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