The Sweet Alyssum, often referred to as the Sweet Alison (Buttuniera, Lobularia maritima) is a low-growing flowering plant, from the mustard family (Brassicaeae) of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.. It is native to the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and the Azores.
The species name ‘maritima’ refers to the plant’s preferred habitat – the coastal one, however it is also found on cultivated fields, disturbed areas, rubble walls and fortifications. The plant consists of several secondary branches along the stem, the latter rising upwards. In the Maltese Islands, the flowers are produced all-year round. Each flower, just 5mm in diameter, has four circular white petals along each stalked flower clusters. Similar to the species’ English name, the flowers have a sweet-smelling aroma similar to that of honey. The sweet smell of the Sweet Alyssum attracts bees, flower flies, wasps and butterflies in their search for nectar.
Considering that this plant has high drought and heat resistance, it can live all year round in the Maltese Islands. It is often found cultivated in gardens as a bedding plant, with many horticultural cultivars with various colours and also it even self-sows if found in a good position. This plant is even edible, and the young leaves, stems and flowers can be eaten to add a pungent flavour.