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Matthew L Baker [2]

Annual to perennial herbs, rarely shrubs (not in Tas.). Leaves alternate; stipules small, often reduced to glandular teeth; lamina simple, entire to deeply pinnatifid. Inflorescence a terminal spike or raceme. Flowers bisexual or rarely unisexual, irregular, occurring in axils of bracts; receptacle hypogynous to perigynous. Sepals 4–8, green, valvate in bud. Petals (0, 2)4–8, white to yellow, free, unequal, entire or lobed, the posterior 1–2 largest, the lateral 2 and the anterior 1–2 progressively smaller and less lobed. Stamens 3–50+, inserted on a nectar-secreting disk; filaments free or joined at the base; anthers bilocular. Carpels (2)3–6(7), free (not in Tas.) or united forming a unilocular ovary that is open at the top; ovules numerous, placentation parietal or basal; stigmas as many as carpels and borne on apical lobes of each carpel. Fruit a dry open capsule or berry (not in Tas.). Seeds reniform to suborbicular.

A family of 6 genera and about 80 species native to central and south-western Asia, Africa, southern Europe, Atlantic Islands and south-western North America, widely naturalized elsewhere. 1 genus and 5 species introduced in Australia, 3 species introduced in Tasmania. Resedaceae are placed in the Brassicales near Gyrostemonaceae (Australia; see Ronse de Craene & Haston 2006).

Key references: Pearce (1982); Entwisle (1996).

External resources: accepted names with synonymy & distribution in Australia (APC); author & publication abbreviations (IPNI); mapping (AVH, NVA); nomenclature (APNI, IPNI).


Reseda L., Sp. Pl. 1: 448 (1753).

Annual to perennial herbs, rarely shrubs; mostly with basal rosettes and erect or spreading stems. Leaves entire to pinnatifid; stipules glandular. Inflorescence a raceme. Sepals 4–7, usually equal. Petals 4–7, unequal, variously lobed, clawed at the base. Stamens 7–40. Carpels 3–6; ovules numerous. Capsule unilocular, opening at the apex.

A genus of about 60 species; native to central and south-western Asia, eastern and northern Africa, southern Europe, north Atlantic Islands, and widely naturalized elsewhere. 5 species introduced in Australia.


Leaves entire; sepals 4

1 R. luteola


At least some leaves lobed or pinnatifid; sepals 5 or 6



Petals white, usually 5; capsule with 4 apical lobes

3 R. alba


Petals white to cream, 5 or 6; capsule with 3 apical lobes



Capsule c. twice as long as broad; seeds smooth; limb of posterior petals 3-lobed

2 R. lutea


Capsule c. as long as broad; seeds rugose; limb of posterior petals 9–15-lobed

R. odorata +

+ Reseda odorata L. (Sweet Mignonette), a native of north Africa and south-eastern Europe, is cultivated throughout the world. In Tasmania, it was recorded for the first time in 2000 from a roadside at Lughrata, Flinders Island. In South Australia it is recorded as sparingly naturalized. For a full description of this species see Pearce (1982).

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1 * Reseda luteola L., Sp. Pl. 1: 448 (1753)

Dyer’s Rocket, Wild Mignonette

Illustrations: Curtis & Morris, The Student’s Flora of Tasmania 1, rev. edn: 52, fig. 13 (1975); Entwisle, Fl. Victoria 3: 461, fig. 93f-g (1996); Harden, Fl. New South Wales 1, rev. edn: 487 (2000); Richardson et al., Weeds of the South-East, an Identification Guide for Australia 356 (2006).

Erect perennial herbs, to 150 cm high, glabrous; stems ribbed, hollow. Leaves simple; basal leaves oblanceolate, 7–13 cm long, 0.7–1.4 cm wide, entire, often with crisped margins, toothed at the base, apex obtuse occasionally apiculate; cauline leaves linear-lanceolate, 5–11 cm long, 0.7–1.5 cm wide, entire, occasionally with crisped margins, apex obtuse, acute or apiculate. Inflorescence a raceme, extending to 63(–80 in Vic.) cm long in the fruiting stage; bracts persistent, narrow lanceolate, 2–5.5 mm long, base sheathing; pedicels 2–3 mm long. Sepals 4, green with pale margins, 1.5–2.5 mm long, oblong, obtuse. Petals usually 4, pale yellow-green, 3–5 mm long; posterior petal largest, 5–7 lobed, lateral petals mostly 3 lobed, anterior petal entire or absent, all with a scale-like claw at the base. Stamens 10–20. Capsule ovoid, 3–4 mm long, 5–7 mm wide, divided nearly half way into 3 acuminate apical lobes. Seeds brownish-black, to 1 mm long, smooth, shining. Flowering Oct.-May; fruiting Nov.-Jul.

Tas. (BL, FLI, TCH, TNM, TNS, TSE, TSR); also naturalized in WA, SA, Qld, NSW, Vic.; native to Europe, widely naturalized in temperate regions. A common weed of roadsides and waste places. First collected in Tasmania in 1876.

2 * Reseda lutea L., Sp.Pl. 1: 449 (1753)

Cut-leaved Mignonette

Illustrations: Entwisle, Fl. Victoria 3: 461, fig. 93d-e (1996); Harden, Fl. New South Wales 1, rev. edn: 487 (2000); Richardson et al., Weeds of the South-East, an Identification Guide for Australia 356 (2006).

Erect to ascending perennial herb, to 60 cm high, glabrous or papillose; stems ribbed, hollow. Leaves simple to pinnatifid; basal leaves obovate, entire or sometimes divided, 3–8 cm long, soon withering; cauline leaves deeply pinnatifid, with 3–7 often bifid lobes, the apices apiculate, each lobe 1–6 cm long, 1–8 mm wide with crisped margins. Inflorescence a raceme, to 40 cm long; bracts caducous, narrowly lanceolate, 1.5–6 mm long; pedicels 4.5–6.5 mm long. Sepals 6, green with pale margins, 1.5–4.5 mm long, linear. Petals usually 6, cream; posterior pair of petals 3-lobed; lateral pair of petals 2–3-lobed; anterior pair of petals 1(–3)-lobed. Stamens 12–20. Capsule oblong, 7.5–12 mm long, 4.5–6.5 mm wide, tuberculate, with 3 short apical lobes. Seeds black, to 1.5 mm long, smooth, shining. Flowering & fruiting Sep.-Nov.

Tas. (FLI, TSE); also naturalized in WA, SA, Qld, NSW, Vic.; native to Europe, widely naturalized in temperate regions. An occasional weed of waste places and roadsides. In Tasmania, not as common as R. luteola, but occurring in similar habitats. Differs from R. luteola by having a dissected leaf and generally shorter racemes. First collected in Tasmania in 1875.

3 * Reseda alba L., Sp. Pl. 1: 449 (1753)

White Mignonette

Illustration: Entwisle, Fl. Victoria 3: 461, fig. 93a-c (1996).

Erect annual herb, 30–60 cm high, glabrous or papillose and somewhat glaucous; stems ribbed, hollow. Leaves deeply pinnatifid, with lobes ± paired along the blade and ending with a single terminal lobe; basal leaves with 5–10 pairs of lobes, each lobe 2–15 mm long, 1–5 mm wide, with the margins crisped; cauline leaves with 5–8 pairs of lobes, each lobe 4–40 mm long, 1–7 mm wide. Inflorescence a raceme to 15 cm long; bracts persistent, 2.5–7 mm long, up to 3 cm wide; pedicels 2.5–7.5 mm long. Sepals 6, green with pale margins, lanceolate, 3–5 mm long. Petals 5(6), white, ± equal, 4.5–6 mm long, 3(–5)-lobed; central lobe slightly longer than lateral lobes. Stamens 10–15. Capsules oblong, narrowed at the apex, 5.5–12 mm long, 2–3.5 mm wide, with 4 short apical lobes. Seeds brownish, to 1.25 mm long, tuberculate, dull. Flowering & fruiting Sep.-Nov.

Tas. (FLI, KIN, TSE); also naturalized in WA, SA, Vic.; native to Europe, widely naturalized in temperate regions. Occasional garden escapee on dry banks, road sides and coastal sand. First collected in Tasmania in 1984.

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APC (Australian Plant Census) http://www.chah.gov.au/apc/about-APC.html

APNI (Australian Plant Name Index) http://www.anbg.gov.au/cgi-bin/apni

AVH (Australia’s Virtual Herbarium) (Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria) http://www.anbg.gov.au/avh.html

Entwisle TJ (1996) Resedaceae. Flora of Victoria 3 459–461.

IPNI (International Plant Name Index) http://www.ipni.org/index.html or http://www.us.ipni.org/index.html

NVA (Natural Values Atlas) (Department of Primary Industries and Water: Hobart) http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/WebPages/LJEM-6TV6TV?open

Pearce RD (1982) Resedaceae. Flora of Australia 8 359–361.

Ronse de Craene LP, Haston E (2006) The systematic relationships of glycosinolate-producing plants and related families: a cladistic investigation on morphological and molecular characters. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 151 453–494.

NOTE: Web addresses can and do change: a list of current web addresses will be maintained on the Flora of Tasmania Online website [www.tmag.tas.gov.au/floratasmania].



Brassicales 1


Cut-leaved Mignonette 2


Dyer’s Rocket 2


Gyrostemonaceae 1


Mignonette 1, 2


Reseda 1

Reseda alba 2

Reseda lutea 2

Reseda luteola 2

Reseda odorata 1

Resedaceae 1

Rocket 2


Sweet Mignonette 1


White Mignonette 2

Wild Mignonette 2

[1] This work can be cited as: Baker ML (2009) 84 Resedaceae, version 2009:1. In MF Duretto (Ed.) Flora of Tasmania Online. 3 pp. (Tasmanian Herbarium, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery: Hobart). ISBN 978-1-921599-24-8 (PDF). www.tmag.tas.gov.au/floratasmania

[2] Tasmanian Herbarium, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Private Bag 4, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia.