Taxonomy of Yellow Alyssum Flowers:
Plant taxonomy classifies yellow alyssum flowers as Aurinia saxatilis (sometimes given as Aurinia saxitilis). Occasionally, you'll still see the older classification, Alyssum saxatile. The cultivar Aurinia saxatilis 'Compacta' bears the common names, "Basket-of-Gold" and "Dwarf Goldentuft."
Characteristics of Yellow Alyssum Flowers:
These perennial alyssum plants have a spreading habit and put out yellow flowers on upright stalks in April-May. The leaves are also attractive, being a blue-grey. Aurinia saxatilis foliage reaches at most 1' in height, with a spread of 18". Re-seeds itself readily and spreads to form a dense mat, making it an effective ground cover. It is reported to have naturalized in parts of New England (U.S.).
Sun and Soil Requirements for Yellow Alyssum Flowers:
This tough ground cover prefers sun and thrives in well-drained, poor soil. Perennial alyssum plants are drought-tolerant.
Planting Zones for Yellow Alyssum Flowers:
Yellow alyssum flowers are commonly grown in zones 3-7. They can be grown in zones 8-10 but will be short-lived there.
Uses for Yellow Alyssum Flowers in Landscape Design:
Yellow alyssum flowers are popular for border plantings and rock gardens. In the latter, their foliage will cascade nicely over the rocks.
Care for Yellow Alyssum Flowers:
After the blooms fade, cut back these perennial alyssum plants by 1/3 to promote re-blooming. Likewise, cut them back by 1/3 if they begin to get too leggy. Divide plants in fall. Fortunately, these are deer-resistant perennials, so you don't have to worry about protecting them from Bambi.
Similar Perennial Alyssum Plants:
Alyssum idaeum is a very similar perennial alyssum plant and also used in rock gardens. However, Aurinia saxatilis is much more popular. For a photo of Alyssum idaeum to see how it compares to Aurinia saxatilis, click on the photo (above right) to open the mini-photo gallery (Alyssum idaeum is the third picture).
Perennial Alyssum Plants as "Madworts":
Both Alyssum idaeum and Aurinia saxatilis are sometimes referred to as "madworts." The suffix, "-wort" simply means plant. But what could these plants possibly have to do with madness? Well, it turns out that they were used in folk medicine -- where they were regarded as antidotes to rabies!