4. Reseda odorata Linnaeus, Amoen. Acad. 3: 51. 1756.
Fragrant or garden or sweet mignonette, mignonette-odorante
Plants annual 25-60(-80) cm, glabrous or puberulent. Stems erect or ascendent, branched. Leaves: blade spatulate to obovate, 3-5(-7) × 1-2 cm, margins entire or ternately lobed (distal cauline lobes 1-3 pairs). Racemes (3-)5-20 cm; bracts persistent, lanceolate-attenuate, 2-3 mm. Pedicels 4-6 mm (7-16 mm in fruit). Flowers (very fragrant); sepals persistent, 6, reflexed in fruit, narrowly elliptic to spatulate, 2.5-4.5(-6.5) mm; petals 6, white or light yellow, 2.5-4.5 mm, clawed, adaxial ones trisect, lateral lobes deeply laciniate; stamens 20-25; filaments deciduous, 2-3 mm, usually papillose; intrastaminal nectary-discs puberulous to velutinous; anthers 1.5-2 mm; placenta entire. Capsules deflexed or pendent, 3-carpelled, broadly cylindric to subglobose, 5-9 × 4-6 mm, apically 3-toothed, walls glabrous, ribs minutely scabrid. Seeds 1.5-1.8(-2.2) mm, dull, undulate-rugose. 2n = 12.
Flowering (Feb-)Jun-Oct. Disturbed soils; 0-100 m; introduced; B.C.; Calif., Conn., Maine, Mass., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Pa., S.C., Vt., Wis.; n Africa.
Reseda odorata is known primarily as cultivated plants, probably of artificial hybrid origin (S. Martín-Bravo et al. 2007). Probably originating in the southeastern Mediterranean basin (M. S. Abdallah and H. C. D. de Wit 1978), it has been grown in gardens for centuries for its fragrant flowers. The perfume industry has used the essence of the flowers. Now subcosmopolitan, R. odorata escapes from cultivation occasionally but is rarely found naturalized. It is far less common in the flora area than the other species of the genus.