What an evocative name this plant has! This native of the Mediterranean has been cultivated in southern Europe
from 1629 and has been grown in the US since Colonial times. It was a
popular cut flower among the Victorians, who thought it looked like an old-fashioned
pincushion, and it is wonderful in the cottage
garden. This magick herb stands for widowhood in the language of flowers and is still
used in funeral wreaths in Portugal and former Portugese colonies like
Brazil. This in combination with some of the common names of this plant make
me wonder if this plant is not a representation of some dark goddess.
Known as a Mercury plant because it grows so quickly, mourning
bride's fragrant flowers attract bees, butterflies (monarch, skipper,
fritillary), hummingbirds. The cut flowers can last three weeks. If you
allow the seedheads to dry on the plant, you can collect the seeds,
or you can deadhead (pick off dead flowers) to keep the plant producing
more flowers or to get another flush of blooms in the fall. A member of
the teasel family, mourning bride was once used medicinally
but presently has no medicinal uses.
It goes well with other black flowers. Mourning bride is also known as pincushion flower, scabious, sweet
scabiosa, Egyptian rose,
mournful widow, and Our Lady's pincushion (keep in mind that plants attributed
to Mary were often originally Goddess plants). Top
Sow indoors 4 weeks before last frost to germinate in 10-18 days at
room temperature, or direct sow outside as soon as soil can be worked.
In areas with no real winter, sow outside in fall. Transplant
6-9"/15-22cm apart in full sun up north and partial shade in hot areas.
They need rich soil and don't like standing water, but they can be
grown in pots. The flowers bloom July-October on stalks
35"/.9m tall. Grow as a perennial in frost-free areas or as an annual
elsewhere. This plant can be invasive in areas that don't have hard
winters. General growing
Black Mourning Bride
Witchcraft & Magic:
Honoring the Dead
© 2004, 2018 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission