Orychophragmus violaceus
Common Name: Chinese violet cress
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Brassicaceae
Native Range: Eastern Asia
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Violet
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Herb
Flower: Showy

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10 where plants may be easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plants will not survive winters where temperatures consistently dip below 20 degrees F. unless plants are overwintered in a cold frame. Intolerant of shade. Will reseed in the garden in optimum growing conditions. Where winter hardy, plants are best grown as a biennials by sowing seed outdoors in late spring to early summer. Transplant seedlings as soon as the second pair of leaves has developed to a sunny nursery bed. Plants may also be grown as winter annuals by planting seed outdoors in fall (in the ground where winter hardy or in a cold frame where marginally winter hardy) or by starting seed indoors in late winter for planting outside after last spring frost date.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Orychophragmus violaceus, commonly called Chinese violet cress, is an annual or biennial member of the mustard family. It is native to roadsides, forests, fields, thickets, valleys, hillsides, sunny slopes and garden areas in central China. This plant is cultivated in China as a vegetable, with stalks typically harvested in the second year after flowering. Flowers and leaves are also edible and make tasty additions to salads. Plants typically grow to 1-2' tall and as wide. Each plant features a basal rosette of reniform, pinnately-lobed, rich green to blue green leaves with dentate margins and cordate bases. Stems with much smaller leaves tend to trail as the plants increase in size. Violet (lavender-pink to blue-lavender) cruciform flowers bloom in terminal racemes at the stem and branch ends in summer. Each flower (to 1 3/4" diameter) has four spreading petals with a contrasting bright yellow center or eye. Synonymous with and formerly known as Arabis chanetii.

Genus name comes from the Greek words oryche meaning pit and phragmos meaning septum in reference to the seed pods.

Specific epithet means violet-colored.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Herb gardens. Containers. Edging.