Erysimum cheiri

Botanical Name :Erysimum cheiri
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus:     Erysimum
Species: E. cheiri
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Brassicales

Synonyms: Cheiranthus cheiri,Gillyflower. Wallstock-gillofer. Giroflier. Gillyflower. Handflower. Keiri. Beeflower. Baton d’or.

Common Name:   Wallflower, Aegean wallflower

Habitat:Erysimum cheiri is native to all Southern Europe, on old walls, quarries and seacliffs. It grows on Walls, cliffs and rocks, often near the sea in Britain.

Description:
This is an herbaceous perennial plant, often grown as a biennial, with one or more highly branching stems reaching heights of 15–80 cm (6–31 in). The leaves are generally narrow and pointed and may be up to 20 cm (8 in) long. The top of the stem is occupied by a club-shaped inflorescence of strongly scented flowers. It has single flowers, yellowy orange in its wild state, and quickly spreads abundantly from seed, commencing to bloom in early spring, and continuing most of the summer. In olden times this flower was carried in the hand at classic festivals, hence it was called Cherisaunce by virtue of its cordial qualities. Each flower has purplish-green sepals and rounded petals which are two to three centimeters long and in shades of bright yellows to reds and purples. The flowers fall away to leave long fruits which are narrow, hairy siliques several centimeters in length.
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This is a popular ornamental plant, widely cultivated for its abundant, fragrant flowers in spring. Many cultivars have been developed, in shades of yellow, orange, red, maroon, purple, brown, white and cream. It associates well in bedding schemes with other spring flowers such as tulips and forget-me-nots. It is usually grown as a biennial, sown one year to flower the next, and then discarded. This is partly because of its tendency to grow spindly and leggy during its second year, but more importantly its susceptibility to infections such as clubroot.

A miniature yellow double leafed wallflower was rediscovered by Rev. Henry Harpur-Crewe (before 1883) and is now named “Harpur Crewe”. Other bred varieties may vary quite a bit in appearance from the wild plant. One cultivar, ‘Chelsea Jacket‘, is a winner of the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit. Other varieties such as ‘Blood Red Covent Garden’ are easy to grow and often benefit from being sown and left to their own devices, growing on patches of empty land with little effort required to maintain them, providing aesthetically sound blooms which produce heady scents.

Cultivation:
Prefers a position in full sun in a circumneutral soil. Succeeds in ordinary garden soils, tolerating poor and limey soils. Plants are liable to die out if the soil is too rich. Wallflowers are perennial, though they are usually grown as biennials in the flower garden for spring and early summer bedding. There are some named varieties. A very ornamental plant, it is liable to die out after flowering, probably because it exhausts itself by producing so many flowers. Plants require a very well-drained dry soil if they are to survive a second winter. They grow well on dry stone walls  and also on old mortared walls where they usually self-sow. A good butterfly and moth plant. A good companion for apple trees.

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Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in an outdoor seedbed. Germination should take place within 3 weeks. Plant the seedlings into their permanent positions when they are large enough to handle. If seed is in short supply, it can be sown in spring in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer.

Constituents: Oil, a powerful glucoside, of the digitalis group, and cherinine, a crystalline alkaloid.

Medicinal Uses:
Erysimum cheiri was formerly used mainly as a diuretic and emmenagogue but recent research has shown that it is more valuable for its effect on the heart. In small doses it is a cardiotonic, supporting a failing heart in a similar manner to foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). In more than small doses, however, it is toxic and so is seldom used in herbal medicine. The flowers and stems are antirheumatic, antispasmodic, cardiotonic, emmenagogue, nervine, purgative and resolvent. They are used in the treatment of impotence and paralysis. The essential oil is normally used. This should be used with caution because large doses are toxic. The plant contains the chemical compound cheiranthin which has a stronger cardiotonic action than digitalis (obtained from Digitalis species). If taken in large doses this is very poisonous and so this plant should not be used medicinally without expert supervision. The seeds are aphrodisiac, diuretic, expectorant, stomachic and tonic. They are used in the treatment of dry bronchitis, fevers and injuries to the eyes

(In homoeopathic medicine a tincture of the whole plant has been found useful in the effects of cutting the wisdom tooth) The oil has a pleasing perfume if diluted, but in full strength a disagreeable odour. The alkaloid is useful acting on nerve centres and on the muscles.

Other Uses: The flowers contain 0.06% essential oil. It has a pleasing aroma if diluted and is used in perfumery. The seed contains about 20% fixed oil, but no details of any uses are  available.

Known Hazards :    The plant is said to be poisonous if used in large quantities.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erysimum_cheiri
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/w/wallfl04.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cheiranthus+cheiri

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