Alyssum, also known as Sweet Alyssum or Sweet Alison (Lobularia maritima) grow wildly and in profusion around my garden despite me not doing a thing to care for them, other than provide the necessary watering during our dry months.
They are self seeding and pop up regularly in spring and stay for as long as they can stand the Australian summer sun. They are a very small plant but what they lack in size they more than make up for in numbers and sheer amazingness.
Why amazing? (besides the facts mentioned above!) Well, if i had not taken some extreme close-up shots i would not have realised just how intricate these plants are – they are the sort of things you can easily dismiss as just a (small) pretty-ish thing from a distance. Each ‘head’ is less than one inch in diameter and the individual flowers are under 1/4 of an inch (5 mm) !!
First off, they are normally pure white, but also have a purple variety. That is not so amazing; what IS amazing is that one plant can have both colours. What’s even more amazing is that within one head of one plant there can be both purple and white individual ‘flowerettes’. Another unusual feature is that while they have only four outer petals they have 6 stamens surrounding a central pistil. Most flowers tend to have equal numbers or masses more of one than the other.
Then, if you look closely at the flower to the right of the purply one below you can see seeds forming in the middle of some of the petals – they are the pear-shaped reddy, purply things. if you look REALLY closely (easier on magnified images) you can see that some seeds have already dropped from the plant, along with the white petals and have left a single transparent seed cover attached to a flower stem. 🙂