by Stephen Mifsud
   4 Feb 2023      ()
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Cerinthe major   (Honeywort)

Cerinthe major  (BORAGINACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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General Information Species Images
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Detailed species profile
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Profile Date Apr-2005 (taxon update: Apr-2005)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Cerinthe major - datasheet created on Apr-2005. Retrieved from on 04-Feb-2023

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Cerinthe majorL.
Published in Sp. Pl. 136 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Cerinthe acuta Moench
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Boraginaceae Juss. (The Borage Family)
16 species from the Boraginaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Honeywort, Great Honeywort

Maltese name(s) :


Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent    Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE ( annual plants, herbaceous )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

February – April

Colour of Flowers:

Cream or Brown


Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Cerinthe: From the Greek keros (=wax) and anthos (=flower), referring to the waxy petals of the flowers or possibly to the old belief that bees take wax from the flowers. (Greek origin )
major: Bigger, larger, greater, superior. This term was often given to plants which are larger or 'more important' compared to other species in the same genus. (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Cultivated fields, waste places and meadows
Preferred habitat in Malta: Valley sides, watercourses, Damp grounds and soils that contain plenty of water.
Botanical Description: Annual; stems 15-60 cm. Lower leaves obovate-spathulate, petiolate, ciliate, tuberculate; the upper ovate-lanceolate, cordate at base. Bracts ovate, subcordate at base, often reddish-glaucous, equalling or longer than calyx. Calyx-lobes acute, ciliate. Corolla 15-30 x 5-8 mm, slightly saccate, straight, yellow, with a reddish-brown ring in the throat, sometimes cream distally, or dark red throughout, more than twice as long as calyx; lobes ovate, sharply recurved at apex. Nutlets blackish.
Chromosome number: 2n=16
Distributional range: Mediterranean region, C. & S. Portugal.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Albania, Corse, Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Greece, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta, Turkey (European part)
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
? AE Ag Al Au(A) Bl(N) Co Cr Ct Ga Gr Hs(S) IJ It Li LS Lu Ma Sa Si(M S) Tn Tu(A E) Uk(K) [He]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (40 images)
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-0.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-1.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-2.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-3.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-4.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-5.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-6.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-7.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-8.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-9.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-10.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-11.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-12.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-13.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-14.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-15.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-16.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-17.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-18.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-19.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-20.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-21.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-22.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-23.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-24.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-25.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-26.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-27.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-28.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-29.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-30.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-31.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-32.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-33.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-34.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-35.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-36.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-37.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-38.
   Cerinthe major   -   Image Code: CERMJ-39.

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Section A:  Additional Information about this plant species
Own observations: Info from published material (books, journals, website):
Reference of published material:
Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
Locations in Malta or Gozo where you have seen this plant. Only applies for rare plants.

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Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
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