Mention the word “wallflower” and most people conjure an image of a shy, unassuming person, literally pasted to the wall in stressful social situations. In botanical circles, though, Wallflower earned the name for its habit of growing on stone and masonry fences and walls. The name has stuck for these wildflowers, most of which grow on sandy, clayey, or rocky flats, but not vertical surfaces.
Western wallflower (E. capitatum) is the most widespread of the dozen native North American Wallflower species. It is equally at home in montane and alpine meadows of the Rocky Mountains as it is in desert canyons of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau.
In Greek, Erysimum translates as “to help or save” in reference to the medicinal qualities of several species. Practitioners of European folk medicine have used Wallflower poultices to relieve bronchial congestion and American Indians used dried leaves or seeds of Plains Wallflower to make a tea for stomach cramps. Wallflowers are also important sources of food for wildlife, including the caterpillars of a number of butterfly and moth species.
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