Sweet William is a species of Dianthus native to the mountains of southern Europe , with a variety disjunct in northeastern China, Korea, and southeasternmost Russia.
It is a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant. With green to glaucous blue-green tapered leaves 4-10 cm long and 1-2 cm broad. The flowers are produced in a dense cluster of up to 30 at the top of the stems and have a spicy, clove-like scent; each flower is 2–3 cm diameter with five petals with serrated edges; in wild plants the petals are red with a white base.
The plant’s common name, “Sweet William”, refers to William of Marlborough, Duke Cumberland. Due to Cumberland’s victory at the battle of Culloden and his generally brutal treatment of the king’s enemies, Irish and Scots sometimes refer to the flower as "Stinking Billy