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Hoary Stock

Matthiola incana

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, rocky places, sea cliffs, seaside.

Variable in colour, 4 petals
The flowers appear in spikes and are either in single or double form. The colour of the flowers can be pink, mauve, purple, violet or white. Flowers have 4 petals.
Cylindrical, curved seedpods. When Hoary Stock is in fruit, the seedpods can cause the plant to look like a tangled mess.
A garden escape with branched, woody bases. It is a short-lived perennial with grey, elongated, untoothed leaves. Often appearing on the Sea Cliffs in Sussex and around the Isle of Wight.
The flowers are very sweet-smelling.
Other Names:
Brompton Stock, Cluster-leaved Stock, Common Stock, Evening-scented Stock, Gilliflower, Gillyflower, Hopes, Night-scented Stock, Queen's Stock, Ten Weeks Stock, Wallflower Stock.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Matthiola incana, also known as Hoary Stock, is a annual or short-lived perennial plant in the Brassicaceae family. It is native to Mediterranean region but naturalized in many other parts of the world. It is grown as an ornamental plant for its showy flowers that bloom in shades of pink, purple, and white. The plant has a bushy habit and can grow to be about 15-60 cm tall. The leaves are lanceolate and have a grayish or silver-white color due to the presence of fine hairs, hence the name incana (hoary). The plant is grown in gardens, it is used as a cut flower and also as a pot plant. It is also considered to be a medicinal plant, with traditional uses for treating various ailments.


Hoary Stock, scientifically known as Matthiola incana, is a popular flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region. Also called Gillyflower, it is an annual or biennial plant that is widely grown for its beautiful and fragrant flowers. In this blog post, we will explore some interesting facts about Hoary Stock, including its history, cultivation, and care.

History and Cultivation

Hoary Stock has a long history of cultivation, dating back to ancient Greek and Roman times. It was originally cultivated for its medicinal properties and later became a popular ornamental plant due to its lovely flowers and sweet fragrance. The plant is now grown in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America.

Hoary Stock is an easy-to-grow plant that prefers cool temperatures and moist, well-draining soil. It can be grown from seed or transplanted from seedlings, and is often used in garden beds, borders, and containers. The plant produces a tall spike of flowers, typically in shades of pink, purple, white, or red, with a delightful fragrance that attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.


Hoary Stock is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care to thrive. It prefers full sun or partial shade, and should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. The plant does well in cooler temperatures, but can tolerate some heat and drought once established.

To promote healthy growth and blooming, it is recommended to fertilize Hoary Stock with a balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks. Deadheading spent blooms can also help encourage additional blooms and prolong the flowering period.

In terms of pests and diseases, Hoary Stock is generally resistant to most common garden pests and diseases. However, it may be susceptible to fungal diseases in humid or wet conditions. It is important to ensure good air circulation around the plants, and avoid overcrowding or overwatering.

Hoary Stock is a beautiful and easy-to-grow plant that adds color and fragrance to any garden. Its long history of cultivation and traditional medicinal uses make it an interesting and valuable addition to any gardener's collection. With minimal care and attention, Hoary Stock can provide gardeners with lovely blooms and a delightful fragrance for years to come.

More Information about Hoary Stock

Hoary Stock is a popular choice for cut flower arrangements, as its blooms last well when cut and have a pleasant scent. It is also sometimes used in perfumes and cosmetics for its fragrance.

In terms of its cultural significance, Hoary Stock has been used in various traditions and folklore around the world. In some cultures, it is considered a symbol of love, purity, and remembrance. In the Victorian language of flowers, it was associated with the sentiment "lasting beauty".

Hoary Stock is also a versatile plant that can be used in different garden styles and designs. Its tall spikes of flowers make it a good choice for adding height to borders, while its compact growth habit and range of colors make it suitable for container gardening.

In terms of its sustainability, Hoary Stock is considered a beneficial plant for pollinators and beneficial insects. By providing a source of nectar and pollen, it can help support local ecosystems and biodiversity. Growing Hoary Stock from organic, non-GMO seeds and avoiding the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers can also help promote a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to gardening.

Hoary Stock is a lovely and versatile plant that can add beauty, fragrance, and biodiversity to any garden. With its long history of cultivation and cultural significance, it is a plant that continues to inspire and delight gardeners around the world.

Hoary Stock is a plant that can be easily propagated from seed, making it a great option for beginner gardeners. It can be sown directly into the garden in the spring, or started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Once established, it will self-seed and come back year after year in many climates.

In terms of its uses, Hoary Stock has been used for both ornamental and medicinal purposes. It is said to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and has been used to treat various ailments such as headaches, coughs, and wounds. The plant's essential oil is also used in aromatherapy for its calming and soothing properties.

Hoary Stock is a plant that has been cultivated for centuries and has continued to captivate gardeners and horticulturists alike with its beauty and fragrance. Whether grown for its ornamental value, medicinal properties, or environmental benefits, it is a plant that can bring joy and inspiration to any garden.

In addition to its beauty and fragrance, Hoary Stock is also an important plant for research and conservation purposes. Its genetic diversity and potential for hybridization make it a valuable genetic resource for plant breeding and biotechnology research. Moreover, some wild populations of Hoary Stock are under threat due to habitat loss and climate change, making the conservation of this species an important issue.

Furthermore, Hoary Stock has cultural significance in various regions around the world. In Iran, it is known as the "flower of the Prophet" and is associated with the celebration of Prophet Muhammad's birthday. In Japan, it is known as "murasaki sumire" and is associated with the concept of "mono no aware", or the beauty of impermanence.

Finally, Hoary Stock has also inspired various works of art and literature throughout history. It has been depicted in paintings by renowned artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, and has been referenced in the works of poets such as William Wordsworth and Walt Whitman.

In conclusion, Hoary Stock is a beautiful and fascinating plant that has played an important role in human culture and history. Its beauty, fragrance, and versatility make it a popular choice for gardeners and florists, while its medicinal and environmental benefits make it an important species for research and conservation efforts. Whether grown for its ornamental value or its cultural and ecological significance, Hoary Stock is a plant that continues to captivate and inspire people around the world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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