Durbanville Nature Reserve – Wild Mignonette – 2

Reseda lutea, the yellow mignonette or wild mignonette, is a species of fragrant herbaceous plant. Its leaves and flowers have been used to make a yellow dye called “weld” since the first millennium BC, although the related plant Reseda luteola was more widely used for that purpose.

Mignonette has a long history in gardens. Native to Egypt, it was said to be one of the flowers strewn in tombs to fragrance the eternal rest of mummified persons, and in the early 1800s, it was fashionable to have a winter bouquet of mignonette fresh from the fields in the south of France.


Mignonette is a medium to tall, branched, bushy, hairless plant. Generally, it is about 12 inches tall but can be significantly taller. There may be a basal rosette of leaves. Leaves are mostly small, pinnately lobed with one or two pairs of lobes on each side. Flowers pale yellow with 6 sepals and petals borne in terminal spikes.

In high summer the pale greenish yellow spires of the wild mignonette stand out conspicuously amongst the grassland in which they are generally found.

Although not as fragrant as the garden mignonette, its flowers do have a musky scent.


Mignonette grows in disturbed, waste and cultivated land, usually on calcareous soils. On well-drained soils in open habitats, occurring on waste ground and roadside verges, in marginal grassland, disused railway land, quarries and arable land, in disturbed chalk and limestone grassland and on fixed sand dunes.

Continues to be common throughout England and the north and south of Wales, but in Scotland it is largely restricted to lowland areas in the south.

A native of Eurasia and North Africa, the plant is present on other continents as an introduced species and a common weed. In Australia it is a noxious weed and pest of agricultural crops.

Some Interesting Information:

In the Language of Flowers mignonette means ‘Your qualities surpass your charms’.

The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of various butterflies, including the Cabbage White, Bath White and Orange Tip.

The name ‘mignonette’ comes from the French ‘mignon’, meaning ‘dainty’.

“You sent me a sprig of mignonette,
Cool-colored, quiet, and it was wet
With green sea-spray…
You said: ‘My sober mignonette
Will brighten your room and you will not forget’.”

Amy Lowell, “Merely Statement”
Wild Mignonette, Reseda lutea, Durbanville Nature Reserve, Durbanville, South Africa
  • Location: Durbanville Nature Reserve, Durbanville, South Africa
  • Date Taken: 2020-10-25
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-200 mm 3-5.6 IS
  • Exposure Program: Manual
  • Image Quality: RAW
  • F-Stop: f/7.1
  • Exposure Time: 1/250 sec
  • ISO Speed: ISO-100
  • Focal Length: 80 mm
  • Metering Mode: Spot Metering
  • Handheld
  • Post Processing: Adobe Photoshop CS6
  • Photographer: Coreen Kuhn
  • Information: Wikipedia, Plantlife, NatureSpot, and Brittanica

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