5 different types of Dianthus:
Sweet Williams, Dianthus Barbatus: a very ornamental plant, its flowers are very attractive to butterflies and moths. The flowers have a strong clove-like scent. Plants self-sow freely when grown in a suitable position.
The flowers have a mild flavour and are used as a garnish for vegetable and fruit salads, cakes, desserts, cold drinks etc.
Pinks, Dianthus Plumarius: flowers are very fragrant, diffusing a powerful clove-like scent. Individual plants become rather untidy after a few years and are best replaced every 2 - 4 years.
The petals are made into cordials, syrups, sauces, vinegars etc.
Carnations, Dianthus Caryophyllus: a very ornamental plant, the carnation is widely cultivated in the flower garden and is grown commercially in France for its essential oil.
Carnation flowers are an aromatic, stimulant herb that has been used in tonic cordials in the past to treat fevers, though this use is now obsolete.
The flower petals have a strong smell of cloves and are candied, used as a garnish in salads, for flavouring fruit, fruit salads etc.
Chinese Pinks, Dianthus Chinensis: a very ornamental plant, it is usually biennial in habit, but can be a short-lived perennial. Since these flower freely in their first year and then degenerate, they are usually treated as annuals.
The Chinese pink has been used for over 2,000 years in Chinese herbal medicine. The whole plant is a bitter tonic herb that stimulates the digestive and urinary systems and also the bowels.