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Nigella damascena

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, riverbanks, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, towns, walls, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

Blue, 5 petals
Love-in-a-Mist is renowned for its unique and delicate flowers. The blooms are intricate and composed of several distinct parts. The petals, typically in shades of blue, pink, purple, or white, form the outermost layer, creating a visually appealing display. Surrounding the petals is a distinctive feathery structure called the involucre, which gives the flower its characteristic appearance. The involucre is a lacy veil or "mist" that envelops the central seed pod, adding an ethereal quality to the overall bloom. This unique feature sets Love-in-a-Mist apart and contributes to its charm. The flower's overall form resembles a beautiful and captivating composition, with the delicate petals and surrounding mist-like structure creating a visual symphony in the garden. The flowers are typically small to medium-sized, and their intricate design makes them a favorite among gardeners and floral enthusiasts alike. Pollinated by bees.
Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena) produces distinctive and ornamental fruit known as seed pods or capsules. These seed pods are equally captivating as the flowers and add visual interest to the plant. The fruit develops after the flowers fade, and they are notable for their unique structure. The seed pods are roughly spherical in shape, and they are covered with a delicate, lacy structure, resembling fine filigree. This intricate pattern gives the seed pods a decorative and ornamental quality. As the seeds mature within the pods, they contribute to the overall charm of Love-in-a-Mist. The pods eventually dry out and turn a tan or brown color, adding to their aesthetic appeal. Harvesting the seed pods allows for the collection of seeds, which are often used for propagation or saved for the next growing season. The distinctive appearance of Love-in-a-Mist seed pods makes them a noteworthy feature in gardens and floral arrangements, contributing to the plant's allure even after the blooming period has passed. The seeds ripen from July to September.
Love-in-a-Mist features finely dissected, fern-like leaves that lend an air of delicacy to the plant. The pinnately compound leaves are characterized by their intricate, thread-like lobes that radiate symmetrically from the stem. Colored in a soothing blue-green shade, these leaves create an elegant backdrop for the striking flowers. Arranged alternately along the stems, the leaves gracefully embrace the plant's slender architecture. Their subtle fragrance, released when handled, adds a sensory dimension to the overall appeal of Love-in-a-Mist. The fine texture and graceful form of the leaves contribute to the plant's visual allure, making it a charming presence in gardens and floral arrangements.
Love-in-a-Mist has a subtle and delicate fragrance that adds to its overall allure. When the leaves or stems are gently crushed, a mild aromatic scent is released, offering a pleasant olfactory experience. While not as intense or overpowering as some other fragrant flowers, the subtle perfume of Love-in-a-Mist contributes to the sensory charm of the plant. The fragrance is often described as gentle and sweet, providing a subtle backdrop to the visual beauty of the intricate flowers and finely cut foliage. Gardeners and enthusiasts may appreciate the understated scent as an additional dimension to the overall sensory experience when encountering Love-in-a-Mist in a garden setting.
Other Names:
Bird's Nest, Blue Crown, Blue Spiderflower, Chase-the-devil, Devil in a Bush, Devil-in-the-Bush, Garden Fennel, Jack in Prison, Jack in the Green, Katherine's flower, Kiss-me-twice-before-I-rise, Lady in the Bower, Love-in-a-puzzle, Love-in-a-tangle, Ragged Lady, St Catherine's Flower.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Nigella damascena, also known as love-in-a-mist, is an annual flowering plant that is native to southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe. It is known for its delicate, fern-like foliage and its showy, blue or white flowers that bloom in the summer and are surrounded by a ring of spiky, papery bracts that resemble a "mist" giving the plant its common name. The seeds of the plant are also used as a spice, known as "black cumin" or "black caraway." The plant is easy to grow and is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens. It is not considered an invasive species and it's not poisonous.


Love-in-a-mist, or Nigella damascena, is a beautiful annual flowering plant native to southern Europe, North Africa, and southwest Asia. It is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, and is also known by other common names such as devil-in-the-bush, ragged lady, and lady-in-the-mist.

The plant gets its common name from the intricate lacy bracts that surround its flowers, giving the impression of being lost in a mist. These delicate, fern-like bracts are often mistaken for petals, but the true petals are actually small and located at the center of the flower. The flowers themselves are usually blue or purple, but can also be white, pink, or red, and are followed by distinctive inflated seed capsules that are used in dried flower arrangements.

Love-in-a-mist is an easy-to-grow plant that is commonly used in cottage gardens, borders, and rockeries. It prefers a sunny location and well-drained soil, but can tolerate some shade and poor soil. The plant can grow up to 60cm tall and will self-seed if allowed to.

Apart from its ornamental value, Love-in-a-mist has also been used for medicinal purposes. The seeds contain a volatile oil that is used in traditional medicine to treat digestive disorders, respiratory problems, and skin conditions. The seeds can also be used as a spice, particularly in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, where they are known as kalonji.

In folklore and mythology, Love-in-a-mist has been associated with love and fertility. The plant was believed to have the power to bring lovers together and was often included in love potions and spells. In some cultures, the plant was also used to protect against evil spirits and to bring good luck.

Love-in-a-mist is not only a beautiful and useful plant, but it also has a fascinating history. It has been cultivated for centuries and has been mentioned in many works of literature, including Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet.

In the language of flowers, Love-in-a-mist has different meanings depending on the color of the flowers. Blue flowers symbolize tranquility, trust, and faithfulness, while purple flowers represent royalty, nobility, and dignity. White flowers signify purity, innocence, and peace, while pink flowers symbolize love, romance, and tenderness.

Love-in-a-mist is also a favorite of pollinators such as bees and butterflies, making it a great addition to any pollinator garden. The plant is also easy to grow from seed, and the seedlings can be transplanted outdoors once they are large enough to handle.

Love-in-a-mist has also been used in traditional folk medicine for its various health benefits. The seeds of the plant are rich in essential oils and have been used for centuries to treat various ailments such as digestive problems, respiratory issues, and skin conditions.

In traditional Indian and Middle Eastern medicine, Love-in-a-mist seeds are used as a natural remedy for asthma, bronchitis, and coughs. The seeds are also believed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that can help reduce inflammation and fight off harmful bacteria.

Furthermore, Love-in-a-mist seeds have been used as a natural remedy for menstrual cramps and other menstrual-related issues. The oil extracted from the seeds has been shown to have a calming effect on the body and can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with menstruation.

Apart from its medicinal uses, Love-in-a-mist seeds are also used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The seeds, also known as kalonji, have a slightly bitter and nutty flavor and are often used in dishes such as curries, chutneys, and bread.

Love-in-a-mist is also a popular choice for dried flower arrangements. The unique and intricate seed pods add texture and interest to bouquets and can be used in a variety of arrangements. The dried seed pods can also be sprayed with metallic paint to add a touch of glamor and elegance.

Additionally, Love-in-a-mist is a great plant for attracting beneficial insects to your garden. The nectar-rich flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, which in turn helps to pollinate other plants in your garden. This makes Love-in-a-mist a great addition to a pollinator garden, which can help support a healthy ecosystem.

It is also important to note that while Love-in-a-mist is generally safe for humans and animals, the plant does contain toxic compounds that can cause mild to moderate gastrointestinal upset if ingested in large quantities. Therefore, it is best to keep the plant out of reach of children and pets and to avoid ingesting the seeds in large amounts.

In conclusion, Love-in-a-mist is a versatile and enchanting plant that can be enjoyed for its ornamental, medicinal, and culinary uses. It is easy to grow, attracts beneficial insects, and adds a touch of magic to any garden or floral arrangement. With its rich history and cultural significance, Love-in-a-mist is a plant that continues to captivate and inspire people all over the world.

30 Stunning Facts About Love-in-a-mist

  1. Botanical Marvel: Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena) is a captivating annual flowering plant known for its unique and intricate blooms.

  2. Exquisite Blooms: The flowers of Love-in-a-Mist feature delicate petals surrounded by a feathery, fern-like structure, creating a visually stunning effect.

  3. Colorful Palette: These blossoms come in various colors, including shades of blue, pink, purple, and white, adding a burst of vibrancy to any garden.

  4. Easy-to-Grow: Love-in-a-Mist is a low-maintenance plant, making it perfect for both novice and experienced gardeners.

  5. Rapid Growth: This fast-growing annual can go from seed to bloom in just a few weeks, providing a quick reward for your gardening efforts.

  6. Self-Sowing Wonder: Love-in-a-Mist is known for its self-sowing ability, meaning it can reseed itself, popping up in unexpected and delightful places.

  7. Historical Significance: With origins in Southern Europe, Love-in-a-Mist has a rich history dating back centuries and is often associated with traditional folklore.

  8. Versatile Garden Addition: Whether in flower beds, borders, or containers, Love-in-a-Mist adds charm and grace to any garden setting.

  9. Drought-Tolerant: These hardy plants are resilient and can withstand periods of drought, making them suitable for various climates.

  10. Culinary Uses: Beyond its ornamental value, some varieties of Love-in-a-Mist produce seeds that are used in culinary applications, adding a unique flavor to dishes.

  11. Attracts Pollinators: The blooms of Love-in-a-Mist attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to a healthy and vibrant garden ecosystem.

  12. Symbolic Meanings: Love-in-a-Mist is often associated with love and affection, making it a meaningful choice for gifts or special occasions.

  13. Medicinal Traditions: In certain cultures, various parts of the plant are believed to have medicinal properties and have been used in traditional herbal remedies.

  14. Cut Flower Beauty: Love-in-a-Mist blooms make exquisite cut flowers, adding a touch of elegance to floral arrangements.

  15. Seed Pods of Interest: After flowering, Love-in-a-Mist develops unique seed pods with an otherworldly appearance, adding an interesting element to the garden.

  16. Companion Planting: Known to be beneficial to nearby plants, Love-in-a-Mist can act as a companion plant, providing natural pest control.

  17. Cottage Garden Favorite: With its charming and old-world appeal, Love-in-a-Mist is a popular choice for cottage gardens, adding a nostalgic touch.

  18. Aromatic Foliage: The plant's fern-like foliage emits a subtle fragrance, enhancing the sensory experience of a garden.

  19. Adaptable Soil Preferences: Love-in-a-Mist is adaptable to various soil types but thrives in well-drained soil with good sunlight.

  20. Cutting Garden Gem: Gardening enthusiasts often include Love-in-a-Mist in cutting gardens, ensuring a fresh supply of blooms for indoor arrangements.

  21. Unique Seed Dispersal: The seed pods of Love-in-a-Mist have a fascinating way of dispersing seeds, contributing to the plant's resilience.

  22. Globally Recognized: Love-in-a-Mist has found its way into gardens worldwide, appreciated for its beauty and versatility.

  23. Butterfly Host Plant: In addition to attracting butterflies, Love-in-a-Mist can also serve as a host plant for certain butterfly species.

  24. Seasonal Beauty: Depending on the climate, Love-in-a-Mist can bloom in late spring to early summer, providing a burst of seasonal color.

  25. Popular in Arrangements: Florists often include Love-in-a-Mist in bouquets and arrangements due to its unique and eye-catching appearance.

  26. Commemorative Gardens: The plant is sometimes used in memorial gardens, symbolizing remembrance and everlasting love.

  27. Diverse Varieties: Love-in-a-Mist has several cultivated varieties, each with its own distinctive characteristics and colors.

  28. Heirloom Appeal: Some varieties of Love-in-a-Mist have been passed down through generations, contributing to their heirloom status.

  29. Low-Fuss Seed Propagation: Propagating Love-in-a-Mist from seeds is a straightforward process, making it accessible for gardeners of all skill levels.

  30. Artistic Inspiration: Love-in-a-Mist's unique and intricate blooms have inspired artists and designers, appearing in various forms of art and decorative elements.


Love-in-a-mist filmed in Adlington, Lancashire on the 5th and 10th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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