Scientific Name(s): Lobularia maritima
Abundance: common
What: seeds, flowers
How: raw
Where: flower beds, landscaping
When: Fall, Winter, Spring
Nutritional Value: Vitamins, minerals, phyto-compounds,
Dangers: beware of pesticides

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are arranged alternately along the stem.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are linear to lanceolate, usually measuring 1 to 2 inches long.

Leaf Venation: Venation is not prominent, with the leaf structure being simple and undivided.

Leaf Margin: Margins are entire, meaning they are smooth and unbroken.

Leaf Color: Leaves are typically a gray-green to bright green color.

Flower Structure: Flowers are small with have 4 petals. Blossom grow in dense clusters at the ends of stems.

Flower Color: Commonly white, although some cultivars may display pink or lavender hues.

Fruit: The fruit is a small silique (a type of dry seed capsule).

Seed: Seeds are tiny and contained within the siliques.

Stem: Stems are slender and branching, creating a mat-like or slightly mounded form.

Hairs: Leaves and stems are often finely hairy.

Height: The plant typically grows to a height of 6 to 12 inches.

Alyssum flowers in a flower bed.

Close-up of flower and seed pods.

Close-up of flower.

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.

People are surprised to learn sweet alyssum is actually a mustard (Brassica family). It's "fairy spiral" arrangement of seed pods and the four-petaled, six-stamened (4 tall, 2 short) flower are the clue. Generally considered to be a cool-weather plant, sweet alyssum is found in many flowerbeds fall to spring. Come summer’s heat they wilt and are usually removed.

While the flowers have a wonderful sweet aroma, the name "Sweet Alyssum" is somewhat misleading when it comes to flavor of raw, young, green seed pods which have the same spicy bite of other mustards. This makes them a funky replacement for radishes in a salad. They also go well with meats where one would normally add a dash of horseradish. The flowers can be eaten any time but the seed pods have the best texture/mouth-feel when still soft and green. The flavor of the leaves is unpleasant to most people but can still be cooked in the same manner as traditional mustard greens.

Warning: Beware of pesticides when harvesting sweet alyssum from flower beds, though if you are following the law you will have already talked to the owner and he/she can tell you if the bed had been sprayed.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

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