Mustard Plants: Brassicaceae
Their commercial utility in multiple sectors of the economy, including agriculture, manufacturing and soil restoration, provides an opening for mustard plants in many daily conversations.
Flora of North America lists 634 North American species. The United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database records one hundred and seven genera highlights the expansive boundaries framing mustard conversations.
Plants in the mustard family, for example, greet people daily in the form of dinner table condiments such as mustard, horse radish and wassabi, along with dinner table vegetables such as the always popular cole crops.
|Weed Identification Guide
Types of Weeds
Types of Flowers
Other's might recognize mustard plants as the weeds permeating their property.
Wild mustard, pictured above, perhaps the best known mustard weed, is a medium sized plant that grows aggressively in fields and other unmanaged areas, including lawns, across most of North America.
A shallow roots makes hand pulling the plant an effective control method.
Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis), another non-native mustard plant sits unevenly between the flower and weed category.
The bright pink flowers explain the plant's original popularity as an ornamental, and today there are still instances of its use.
Since its early introduction to American soil, the plant has spread throughout the northern half of the United States, where it competes with native plants for space.
In the wild it thrives in multiple locations, including woodland areas and roadsides.
The Forest Service recommends, "Locating and removing plants immediately before seed sets is the best way to prevent the spread of dame's rocket. Be sure to check the contents of "wildflower" seed mixes for this species, and do not plant those that carry it."
Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), initially introduced from Europe, calls many lawns home.
Often more recognized by its long, thin stems rather than its flowers, Hairy Bittercress often gets characterized as a lawn nuisance rather than an invasive species. Lawn control management can be as easy as pulling up the plant and removing its shallow roots.
An early blooming western native, it produces purple flowers, streaked with an additional dark purple color.
Nuttall's can be found in a variety of habitats, although it is commonly associated with riparian areas and forests.
Approximately ninety different rockcress genus (Arabis) species grow in North America. Typically tiny flowers that bloom in shades of pink, purple, white and yellow.
Often multiple flowers grow atop a thin stem, although some plants grow in clumps with shorter stems surrounded by a thick base of leaves.
With so many different species, flower color, shape and number of leaves, as well as habitat serve as important identification clues.
Both native and introduced wallflowers, genus Erysimum, are common spring blooming North American plants.
The final picture shows the orange petals of a sanddune wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), one of the most common native species.
© 2008-2012 Patricia A. Michaels