Dictamnus albus
Common Name: dittany 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rutaceae
Native Range: Central and western Asia, Europe
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White, pink, red, lilac, sometimes veined or dotted red.
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Prefers evenly moist, fertile, humusy soils that do not become soggy. Tolerates drought only when well-established. Tolerates light shade. Does best in northern climates where the nights are cool. Can be grown from seed, but may take several years (3-4) to flower. Slow to establish, but thereafter a long-lived, low-maintenance plant. Difficult to divide and is best left undisturbed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dictamnus albus, commonly called dittany, is an upright, clump-forming, woody-based, herbaceous perennial which features rigid, vertical stems typically growing 2-4' tall. Stems are topped by terminal racemes of fragrant, 5-petaled, white or pink flowers (1" long) in late spring to early summer. Flowers give way to star-shaped seed heads which provide some ornamental interest if left on the plant. Elegant, glossy, odd-pinnate, light green leaves are attractive throughout the growing season and emit a pleasant lemony fragrance when rubbed or crushed. Foliage also contains an oil that causes allergic reactions (skin rash) in some individuals. Another common name for this plant is gas plant. In hot weather, old flowers or seed pods emit a flammable oil which, on a windless summer evening, can be ignited with a match resulting in a brief vapor burn which is harmless to the plant, hence the common name.

Genus name comes from the Greek name for a Cretan origanum, probably named after Mount Dikte.

Specific epithet means white.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Rigid stems usually do not need support.

Garden Uses

Specimen or group for borders, cottage gardens. Good with daylilies, peonies, campanulas and iris.