Sweet alison, sweet alyssum
Coastal California; scattered areas of most other states (non native)
Fields, roadsides, sand dunes, disturbed ground
Linear or narrowly lanceolate; 2 inches long, with a pointed tip
February to September
Although native to the Mediterranean region, lobularia maritima (sweet alison, or alyssum) has become established in parts of most US states, in particular coastal areas of California. It produces dense, spherical clusters of small (less than a third of inch in diameter) flowers, merging to create a near-continuous cover of white above the dark green foliage. Flowers consist of four rounded white petals enclosing a light green center with one style and six purple stamens topped by yellow anthers. Stems branch profusely, and the plant grows as much sideways as vertically, forming rounded clumps. Flowers exude a subtle sweet smell, and the species is often cultivated, on account of its long lasting blooms.