This tender annual is native to coastal areas of southern Europe, from the Balearics to former Yugoslavia, and is a member of the mustard family, Cruciferae, that also includes turnip, alyssum, and wallflower. Although the flowers of modern varieties are usually double, the flowers of ancient times were single. The ancient Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder (died 79 AD) speaks of three types of violets prized for use in garlands and one, white violet, has been identified as common stock. He also notes that flowers of the white violet opens suppurations, while both white and yellow violets (Aegean wallflower) check the menstrual discharge, and act as diuretics. A wall painting in the House of the Golden Bracelet shows some flowers that may be the flower that Pliny calls white violets. Photo Credit Kurt Stuber Wikipedia

Stock grows 1-3′ tall and has oblong, gray-green leaves that are hairy and up to 4″ long.  From late spring into fall in cool summers, or late fall and early spring in warm areas single white flowers appear and give rise to silique with 2-3 horns and containing numerous small, round, winged seeds. [NB This description is modified from modern species as description of ancient specimens is lacking but believed to be very different from modern varieties]

Size: 8-36” H x 10-12” W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Fertile, medium moist, well-drained; usually grown as an annual

Hardiness: Zones 7-10

By Karen