Paris Market Wallflower

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Paris Market Wallflower
Paris Market Wallflower

Common Name: Paris Market Wallflower[1]

Scientific Name: Erysimum cheiri cv. (Cheiranthus cheiri cv.)

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 they 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, Jefferson sent his daughter Martha a “bundle of Wall flowers,”[2] and he ordered wallflower seed from Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon in 1807.[3] The wallflower also appears in the 1793 diary of Lady Jean Skipwith of Virginia and Bernard McMahon includes it in his 1802 or 1803 seed catalog.[4]


  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plant Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 327.
  3. Ibid, 337. 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.
  4. Lawrence D. Griffith, Flowers and Herbs of Early America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 218.

Further Sources