Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Lepidium virginicum L.
- Family: Mustard (Brassicaceae)
- Flowering: February-November
- Field Marks: The short, flat, rounded fruits notched at the tip, the very tiny white flowers, and
the toothed leaves characterize this species. It is one of the very few members of the mustard
family with only 2 stamens per flower.
- Habitat: Old fields, pastures, prairies, glades, disturbed areas.
- Habit: Annual or perennial herb with a slender taproot.
- Stems: Upright, branched, usually somewhat hairy, up to 15 inches tall.
- Leaves: Of 2 kinds: the basal ones usually obovate, up to 2 inches long, very deeply lobed with
a large terminal lobe, usually somewhat hairy; the leaves on the stem alternate, lanceolate to
narrowly oblong, pointed at the tip, tapering to the base, toothed, usually hairy, up to 1 1/2 inches
- Flowers: Many in terminal racemes, the lower ones on longer stalks than the upper ones.
- Sepals: 4, tiny, green.
- Petals: 4, white, free from each other, about 1/20 inch long, sometimes absent.
- Stamens: 2.
- Pistils: Ovary superior.
- Fruits: Pods flat, oval to spherical, notched at the tip, with very small wings above, up to 1/8 inch
- Notes: This is an extremely variable species, particularly the size and shape of its leaves. Its
peppery fruits can be used in salads. The plant is primarily an upland plant but, on occasion, it is
found in wetland situations.
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