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alyssum

alyssum əlĭs´əm [key], any species of the genus Alyssum of the family Cruciferae (or Brassicaceae; mustard family), annual and perennial herbs native to the Mediterranean area. A few species, notably the perennial golden tuft (A. saxatile), are cultivated as rock-garden or border ornamentals for their masses of yellow or white flowers. The annual sweet alyssum (called A. maritima but separated by most botanists as Lobularia maritima) is a similar plant with fragrant white or lilac blossoms. The alyssums have been called madwort or heal-bite because of an old belief that they cured rabies. Alyssum is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Capparales (or Brassicales), family Cruciferae (or Brassicaceae).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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