White Alyssum Flowers
Inventory, 3.5 oz : 6.00
This item was last sold on : 12/01/23
Alyssum flowers are tiny blossoms, averaging 8 to 12 millimeters in diameter, and are comprised of four rounded petals creating a tiny cross-shape, surrounding pin-sized yellow anthers. The delicate blossoms form in umbels and develop in various hues, ranging from paper white to deep purple, often on the same bush. Alyssum flowers grow along thin, branching stems with alternating blue-green, lance-shaped leaves covered in tiny hairs called trichomes. The small blooms emit a rich, honeyed aroma and have an intense, peppery flavor with bitter-sweet and earthy undertones.
Alyssum flowers bloom from June to October in the Northern Hemisphere and may bloom year-round in warmer climates with no winter frost.
Alyssum flowers, botanically classified as both Lobularia maritima and Alyssum maritimum, grow on a short bushy plant that spreads quickly and vigorously as a ground cover. The plant is also known as Sweet Alyssum, Sweet Alice, Sweet Alison, and carpet flowers and is a member of the Brassicaceae family. Alyssum is drought tolerant and self-seeding, making it a highly favored garden plant. The plant is often arranged in gardens as a companion crop, and the sweet blooms and dense foliage attract a host of pests and beneficial insects. The bush blooms nearly year-round in warmer climates, only stopping during the hottest time of the year to preserve energy. The oldest variety of Sweet Alyssum featured only white flowers, but now there are over a hundred varieties of Alyssum grown globally with flowers of white, pink, purple, and light orange. The most common types include Easter Bonnet, Snow Crystals, Lavender Sweet Alyssum, Royal Carpet, and Pastel Carpet. The flowers and leaves of the plant have been used medicinally for hundreds of years. They have recently gained popularity as a culinary ingredient because of their small size, sweet fragrance, and pungent, peppery flavor.
Alyssum flowers and leaves contain many of the same nutrients as other members of the Brassicaceae family. Brassicas contain high levels of vitamins A and E to support immunity, reproduction, and vision, and vitamin C, a nutrient vital for maintaining blood vessels, collagen, cartilage, and bones. The greens are also known to contain high levels of folate, iron, potassium, and phosphorus, nutrients that support tissue and cell repair in the body. Alyssum flowers have traditionally been used to treat various ailments, including colds, coughs, and abdominal pains. The flowers act as a natural diuretic and are used in some homeopathic remedies to prevent excessive water retention, edema, and kidney disease. Historically, Alyssum has also been used in Spain as a treatment for gonorrhea and scurvy.
Alyssum flowers have a sweet fragrance and peppery flavor that make them ideal for a variety of culinary applications. The leaves and stems of Alyssum are also edible and can be used in much the same way as the flowers. The umbels can be placed whole on top of cakes, main dishes, or appetizers to create a beautiful edible garnish and stunning presentation. The flowers can be separated from their clusters and used to add texture, flavor, and visual appeal to salads, omelets, summer soups, grains, and fruit. The small size of the flowers makes them a perfect addition to confections like custards, cakes, and ice cream, as well as pressed into cookies and cheeses or frozen in ice cubes. The blossoms can be whipped into a compound butter and spread on bread, meat, and potatoes, adding color and a burst of bitter-sweet flavor. Alyssum blossoms and leaves can be dried and added to herbal tea mixes. The flowers should be harvested in the morning when they are at their peak color, and the petals are firm. They should remain attached to branches and in water or wrapped in a dry towel to remove moisture until they are ready to be plated to avoid wilting and browning of the petals.
Alyssum flowers have been a popular addition to home gardens since the 16th century, when the flowers could be found bordering stone paths in Europe. Today, with the rise in the popularity of home gardening and edible landscapes, Alyssum flowers have found new acclaim as a companion plant. Alyssum flowers are drought tolerant and self-sowing, requiring very little to grow. In a vegetable garden, the short bushes act as a living mulch, shading the soil to keep it moist and helping to support beneficial soil organisms. The compact leaves and flowers of the plant make them an ideal habitat for insects that help to maintain pest populations like slugs and beetles that would normally ravage a crop of leafy lettuces and chards. The small, sweet-smelling flowers bloom almost year-round, attracting pollinators to the garden and helping to increase crop yield. Alyssum flowers can be planted right along with chards and kale. The roots of these leafy crops dig deep into the soil, while Alyssum roots are shallow and fibrous. This means the two crops can share soil space without competing for nutrients. The combination of tall leafy greens and low delicate flowers also creates a stunning visual, resulting in a beautiful garden space that works together to create rich, biodiverse soil.
Alyssum is believed to be native to the Mediterranean region, including Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Canary Islands. The plant was first cultivated in Spain, with the first records dating back to the 16th century. The common cultivar of Alyssum, Lobularia maritima, was hybridized and developed in the 1800s. Sweet Alyssum was spread along trade routes throughout Europe, quickly becoming a favorite garden plant. The flowering bush followed colonists to North and South America, where it quickly naturalized in coastal areas. Today, the plant is an aggressive grower in these areas and is considered an invasive species, particularly in California and Hawaii. The plant has disturbed coastal dunes, scrub, bluffs, prairies, and riparian areas in these regions, often crowding out and suffocating natural foliage. Sweet Alyssum can be found easily at gardening stores throughout temperate regions and for sale at specialty stores and farmers markets.
Restaurants currently purchasing this product as an ingredient for their menu.
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