AskDefine | Define wallflower

Dictionary Definition



1 any of numerous plants of the genus Erysimum having fragrant yellow or orange or brownish flowers
2 perennial of southern Europe having clusters of fragrant flowers of all colors especially yellow and orange; often naturalized on old walls or cliffs; sometimes placed in genus Erysimum [syn: Cheiranthus cheiri, Erysimum cheiri]
3 remains on sidelines at social event

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. Several short-lived herbs or shrubs of the Erysimum genus with bright yellow to red flowers.
  2. A person who is socially awkward, especially one who does not dance at a party due to shyness.


several short-lived herbs or shubs of the Erysimum
  • Bulgarian: боянка
  • Dutch: steenraket
  • French: vélar
  • German: Goldlack
  • Polish: pszonak
a socially awkward person
  • German: Mauerblümchen
translations to be checked
  • ttbc Chinese: 香罗兰 (xiāng luó lán), 局外人 (júwàirén)
  • ttbc Polish: podpieracz ścian

Extensive Definition

The genus Erysimum (wallflowers) includes more than 220 species, both popular garden plants and many wild forms. They are small, annual, short-lived perennial herbs or sub-shrubs, reaching 10-130 cm tall, with bright yellow to red or pink flowers produced throughout the spring and summer. One species, Erysimum semperflorens, native to Morocco and Algeria, has white flowers. Wallflowers have t-shaped trichomes.
The genus Cheiranthus is sometimes included herein whole or in part.


Wallflowers are native to southwest Asia, the Mediterranean region, Europe, Macaronesia (Including Cabo Verde), and North America through Costa Rica. Many wallflowers are endemic to small areas, such as the Teide wallflower E. scoparium, endemic to the Teide volcano on Tenerife, the Franciscan wallflower E. franciscanum, endemic to the northern California coast, the Sierra Nevada wallflower E. nevadense, endemic to the Sierra Nevada of Spain, E. moranii from Guadalupe Island (Mexico), and the endangered Santa Cruz wallflower E. teretifolium, endemic to the inland sandhills of Santa Cruz County, California. Erysimum kykkoticum, found only on Cyprus, is nearly extinct.


Erysimum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including the Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata). In addition, some species of weevils, like Ceutorhynchus chlorophanus, live inside the fruits feeding on the developing seeds. Many species of beetles, bugs and grasshoppers eat on the leaves and stalks. Some mammalian herbivores, for example Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in North America, Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) in Central Europe, or Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica) in the Iberian Peninsula, feed on wallflower flowering and fruiting stalks.
Wallflowers are pollinator-generalists, their flowers being visited by many different species of bees, bee flies, hoverflies, butterflies, beetles, and ants.

Selected species


Most wallflower garden cultivars (e.g. Erysimum 'Chelsea Jacket') are derived from E. cheiri (often placed in Cheiranthus), from southern Europe. Growth is best in dry soils with very good drainage, and they are often grown successfully in loose wall mortar, hence the vernacular name. Their flowers are often purple or brown.
wallflower in Bulgarian: Боянка
wallflower in Spanish: Erysimum
wallflower in French: Vélar
wallflower in Dutch: Steenraket
wallflower in Polish: Pszonak
wallflower in Portuguese: Erysimum
wallflower in Tajik: Хокшир
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