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Wild Mustard Sinapis arvensis

Other plants called Wild Mustard:

Previously known as:

  • Brassica kaber
Phonetic Spelling
sin-NAP-is ar-VEN-sis
Description

Charlock Mustard is a winter annual wildflower in the mustard family that has been present in the US since the 18th century. It is typically found in disturbed locations such as vacant lots, grain fields, along railroad tracks and other waste areas.  It is not considered a threat to native plants but may be more of a nuisance in a garden or crop setting.

It has 4-petaled bright yellow flowers that appear above medium green leaves.  The stems have downward pointing white hairs and red sections where the stems join up.  This trait distinguishes it from other plants in the mustard family.

The bristly leaves of seedlings have prominent veins.  They develop from a basal rosette.  Leaves on the lower portion of the plant are lobed and toothed while the upper leaves are alternate and may be stalkless to having a short stalk.  The leaves become smaller as they ascend the stem.  

Pollination is done by bees and flies.  

Many parts of the plant are edible.  The leaves can be eaten both cooked or raw.  While older leaves are somewhat bitter, the hot, young leaves can be used as a spicy flavoring in salads.  Like the young leaves, the seeds are also hot and can be added to a salad.  When cooked, the flowers have a flavor similar to cabbage or a radish.  They can also be used as a vegetable or garnish. 

The oils from the seeds are also used in the production of soaps and for the lubrication of machinery.

During the hot summer months when it is particularly dry, the leaves can wilt and the plant will become stunted.  

Its weedy tendencies have been known to be an issue in agriculture.  But modern day herbicides have pretty much eliminated or control the problems.

A host plant for the caterpillars of Evergistis pallidata (Purple-Backed Cabbage Worm Moth), Pieris rapae (Cabbage White butterfly), and Pieris protodice (Checkered White butterfly).

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  This plant hosts an ellworm that can destroy other plants or crops.  A nematode, it gets its name from its resemblance to an ell.  Barely visible to the naked eye, they typically feed on bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms, however, they can attack the root hairs of plants.  

Seeds that remain in the surrounding area are viable for up to 60 years.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#edible plant#weeds#edible weed#weedy#edible flowers#frost tolerant#reseeds#edible seeds#alkaline soils tolerant#edible garden#edible leaves#wildflower garden#annual weed#clay soils tolerant#problem for horses#host plant#salt spray intolerant#shade intolerant#weed
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#edible plant#weeds#edible weed#weedy#edible flowers#frost tolerant#reseeds#edible seeds#alkaline soils tolerant#edible garden#edible leaves#wildflower garden#annual weed#clay soils tolerant#problem for horses#host plant#salt spray intolerant#shade intolerant#weed
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sinapis
    Species:
    arvensis
    Family:
    Brassicaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Weed
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eurasia, Africa
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees and flies are attracted to the flowers for nectar. Some small mammals also eat the leaves. It also serves as a host plant for caterpillars.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Larval Host
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Weed
    Habit/Form:
    Cascading
    Mounding
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Siliqua
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits form along the stalk below the flower head. The round pods grow to 1/2 to 1 1/2". The seeds are under 1/10", brown to black in color. They form as the flower petals fall off and the pistil elongates into a thin seedpod.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Long Bloom Season
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Yellow 4 petaled flowers with 6 stamens and a green pistil form terminal racemes. 1/2" flowers are large for the mustard family and the bloom season from late spring to early fall is long.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    6" long and 2" wide alternate and wider at the base of the plant getting smaller and clasping the stem as they move up the stem. Hairs can be found along the mid-veins.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The erect, green stems may have a reddish pigmentation. The stem is smooth with the exception of coarse hairs that are denser on the mid to lower stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Problems:
    Problem for Horses
    Weedy