Dictamnus albus var. purpureus

Common Name: dittany 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rutaceae
Native Range: Europe and western temperate Asia
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Pale to deep purplish pink with darker veins on petals
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Cut
Leaf: Fragrant


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

Noteworthy Characteristics

Dictamnus albus, commonly called gas plant, 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. 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.

Var. purpureus has pale to deep purplish-pink flowers with darker lines on the petals.

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

Specific epithet means white.


No serious insect or disease problems. Support is generally unnecessary due to strength of woody based stems.


Excellent specimen or group planting for perennial borders, especially effective with day lilies, campanulas or iris.