Did you know that the name of the plant Cerinthe major comes from the belief that bees extracted wax from its blossoms to make their
Honeywort- Cerinthe major
Cerinthe is a poorly studied genus of vascular plants in the family Boraginaceae, 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. The genus has a circum-Mediterranean distribution, ranging from the
Irano-Turanian Region in the east to Morocco in the west.
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.