Have you seen this plant?

Matthiola parviflora (Shousb.) (Brassicaceae)

(jump to Google Map of distribution in North America)


photos copyright Jonathan Horst 2010

We are trying to catalog the current distribution of Matthiola parviflora, an exotic annual crucifer, around Tucson (and anywhere else you’ve seen it!). It is flowering and fruiting right now (March 31) and may be in your yard, along the side walks in your neighborhood, or local trails! If you see it, please email detailed location information and any comments about extent or density to Jonathan Horst : jhorst@email.arizona.edu

Download a flyer with key identification information to distribute (.pdf)

M. parviflora was first recorded in the winter of 2008 on Tumamoc Hill, near the intersection of 2nd St & Main, on Via Roma near Gates Pass, and Craycroft & 5 th St. It is similar to the more showy M. longipetala, a naturalized horticultural plant, but M. parviflora has much smaller (< 1cm diameter) and paler (lavender) flowers without wavy margins on the petals. Both have characteristic long narrow horned siliques.

 M. parviflora ( Plant descriptions adapted from Flora Palestina, vol 1. by Michael Zohary)

Annual, tomentose with branched hairs, 10-30 cm. Stems almost erect, diffusely branched at base. Leaves 4.5-5.0 (-7.5) x 0.7-1(-1.5) cm., crowded at base and along stem, oblanceolate, sinuate-dentate or pinnatifid with acute lobes; lower leaves long-petioled, upper and floral sessile. Racemes short, often overtopped by leaves. Flowers short-pedicelled or sessile. Sepals 5(-7) mm. Petals 0.6-0.8 (-1.5)cm., purple, obovate. Fruit 4.5-6 cm., erect or spreading; horns 4-5 mm. Flowering March-April.

M. longipetala

10-40 cm. Stems branching from base, rarely leafy. Leaves lanceolate to oblong; indumentum sparse; plants greenish. Petals 1.4-2 (-3) cm, longer than calyx; limb pink or purple, linear-lanceolate, margin undulate; claw yellow, livid or purple. Fruit spreading or rarely recurved, rarely contorted; lateral horns 1-1.2 cm., horizontal or recurved. Flowering February-May

Distinguishing M. parviflora and M. longipetala

M. parviflora

M. longipetala (evening-scented stock)


petals: 0.6-0.8 cm, lavender, obovate

Flowers are not noticeably scented.


petals: 1.4-2 cm, margin undulate, claw yellow, livid or purple

small button-like prefloral scales

In the evening this species releases a pleasant perfume


< 30cm, (usually < 20cm), often overtopped by leaves


40cm (less then <50cm), stems rising from base, no leaves on stem once flowers start