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Erysimum cheiri cv. - Paris Market Wallflower
Scientific Name: Erysimum cheiri cv. (Cheiranthus cheiri cv.)
Common Name: Paris Market Wallflower
Description: Spring blooming perennial often used as an annual; colorful mixture of red, mahogany, yellow, and white flowers; deliciously fragrant
Size: Grows 12 to 18 inches high and 12 inches wide
Cultural Information: Prefers full sun and well-drained garden loam
USDA Zones: 7 through 10
Historical Notes: This cheerful wallflower strain is grown as an annual bedding flower in spring and early summer. Wallflowers, which have been cultivated since the 17th century, are divided into two genera, Cheiranthus and Erysimum, and there is much debate as to the differences between the two. Some authorities believe the two words are synonyms. The name Cheiranthus derives from the Latin for "hand flower," referring to this fragrant flower's use in nosegays and tussie mussies.
While serving as president, Thomas Jefferson sent his daughter Martha a "bundle of Wallflowers,"1 and he ordered wallflower seed from Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon in 1807.2 The wallflower also appears in the 1793 diary of Lady Jean Skipwith of Virginia, and Bernard McMahon includes it in his 1802/1803 seed catalog.3
- Peggy Cornett, n.d.
- Adams, Denise Wiles. Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004.
- Coats, Alice M. Flowers and Their Histories. London: Black, 1968. See pp. 47-48.
- Skipwith Family Papers, 1760-1977. Manuscripts and Rare Books Department. Earl Gregg Swem Library. College of William and Mary.
- Stuart, David and James Sutherland. Plants from the Past: Old Flowers for New Gardens. London: Penguin, 1989.
- Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants.
- 1. Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, November 21, 1806, in Betts, Garden Book, 327. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 2. Jefferson to McMahon, January 6, 1807, in ibid., 337. Transcription available at Founders Online. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello, 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 56.
- 3. Lawrence D. Griffith, Flowers and Herbs of Early America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 218.