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Cerinthe major (flower).jpg
Flowers of Cerinthe major
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Boraginales
Family: Boraginaceae
Subfamily: Boraginoideae
Genus: Cerinthe
Type species
Cerinthe major

Cerinthe is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae,[1] known as honeyworts. The genus is characterised by a calyx made up of separate, rather than fused, sepals, a tubular corolla, and the schizocarpic fruit that divides into two parts at maturity, unlike most members of the family, where the fruit splits into four nutlets.[1] The genus has a circum-Mediterranean distribution, ranging from the Irano-Turanian Region in the east to Morocco in the west.[1]

Cerinthe has been known since ancient times. An early reference to it is in John Gerard's The Herbal, published in 1597, describing its appearance, growth habits, time of blooming and mentions that "there is a taste as if it were of new wax in the floures [sic] or leaves chewed, as the name doth seeme [sic] to import." Gerard gives a list of other names for Cerinthe applied by prior writers, including Avicenna "Auicen", Pliny the Elder, Conrad Gessner, Rembert Dodoens, Carolus Clusius, and Matthias de l'Obel.[2]


The genus name is a compound of the Greek elements κερί / κηρός (= keri / kēros or keeros) "(bees)wax" and άνθος (=anthos) "flower" - whence "wax flower" - from the belief that bees extracted wax from the blossoms to make their honeycombs.[3]


The following species are accepted by The Plant List:[4]


  1. ^ a b c Federico Selvi; Lorenzo Cecchi & Andrea Coppi (2009). "Phylogeny, karyotype evolution and taxonomy of Cerinthe L. (Boraginaceae)". Taxon. 58 (4): 1307–1325. doi:10.1002/tax.584019. JSTOR 27757019.
  2. ^ John Gerard (16 September 2015). The Herbal Or General History of Plants: The Complete 1633 Edition as Revised and Enlarged by Thomas Johnson. Courier Dover Publications. pp. 538–. ISBN 978-1-60660-080-1.
  3. ^ https://www.greekflora.gr/el/flowers/1204/Cerinthe-major Retrieved 10.33am on 10/6/19.
  4. ^ "Cerinthe". The Plant List. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Blue shrimp plant Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'". The Plant Guide. Fine Gardening. Retrieved 5 June 2018.

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