Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
A common plant on native pastures throughout North Dakota, western wallflower begins to bloom in April. The species can be found from southern Canada to New Mexico and through many of our eastern states.
This perennial plant is usually about a foot tall and conspicuous because the upper half is covered with numerous bright yellow flowers. Flowers have four petals and are about three-fourths of an inch wide. The rough, hairy stems are single or sparsely branched. Long, narrow leaves grow alternately on the stem. At maturity, thin, three-inch-long seedpods stick out at right angles to the stem.
Western wallflower is listed as fair forage for livestock but still seems to thrive in most pastures. Members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae) have been developed into hundreds of food plants such as cauliflower, cress, radish, turnip, and rutabaga, as well as many ornamentals. However, other mustards may become troublesome weeds in cropfields.
This family gets its name from brassica, the Latin name of the cabbage. The generic name Erysimum stems from the Greek eryomai meaning "help" or "save", from the supposed medicinal properties of some species. The specific epithet asperum means "harsh" in botanical Latin, in reference to the stiff hairs. This plant was first described by the early English botanist Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) who visited what now is North Dakota in 1811.