The Wallflower, or Handfiower (Cheiranthus cheiri), or

Wall-gilliflower, has been cultivated in this country almost from time

immemorial, for its fragrance and bright colouring. It is found wild

in France, Switzerland, and Spain, as the Keiri or Wallstock.

Formerly this flower was carried in the hand at classic festivals.

Herrick, in 1647, gave a more romantic origin to the name


Why this flower is now called so

List, sweet maids, and you shall know:

Understand this wilding was

Once a bright and bonny lad

[596] Who a sprightly springal loved,

And to have it fully proved

Up she got upon a wall

Tempting to slide down withal:

But the silken twist untied,

So she fell: and, bruised, she died.

Love, in pity of the deed,

And such luckless eager speed,

Turned her to this plant we call

Now the 'Floweret of the Wall.'

It is the only British species belonging to the Cruciferous order of

plants, and flourishes best on the walls of old buildings, flowering

nearly all the summer, though scantily supplied with moisture. We

may presume it was one of the earliest cultivated flowers in English

gardens, as it is discovered on the most ancient houses.

Turner, an early writer on Plants, calls it Wallgelouer, or

Hartisease; and by Spencer it was termed Cherisaunce, as

meaning a cordial to the heart, this being really the herb to which

the name Heart's-ease was originally given. By rustics it is known

also as the Beeflower.

But the common Stock likewise bore the appellation, Gilliflower:

and the probability is, there was in old days, as Cotgrave suggests, a

popular medicine or food for the passions of the heart, called

gariofile, from the cloves which it contained, the Latin for a clove

being caryophyllum. Hence it came about that the Wallflower, the

Pansy, and the Stock, by virtue of their cordial qualities, were alike

called Gilliflowers, or Heart's-ease.

There are two varieties of the cultivated Wallflower, the Yellow and

the Red; those of a deep colour growing on old rockeries and similar

places, are often termed [597] Bloody Warriors, and Bleeding Heart.

The double Wallflower has been produced for more than two

centuries. If the flowers are steeped in oil for some weeks, they

contribute thereto a stimulating warming property useful for friction

to limbs which are rheumatic, or neuralgic. Gerard suggests that the

oyle of Wallflowers is good for use to annoint a paralyticke. An

infusion of the flowers, made with boiling water, will relieve the

headache of debility, and is cordial in nervous disorders, by taking a

small wine-glassful immediately, and repeating it every half-hour

whilst required. The aromatic volatile principles of the flowers are

caryophyllin and eugenol. This Wallflower, adds Gerard,

and the Stock Gilliflower are used by certain empiricks and quack

salvers about love and lust,--matters which for modesty I omit.