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Hedge Mustard

Scientific Name: Sisymbrium officinale syn, Erysimum officinale
Other names: common hedge mustard, english water cress, Indian hedge mustard, oriental rocket mustard, tumbling mustard
Family: Brassicaceae or Cruciferae

An annual or biennial found on roadsides, wasteland and back alleys - also a weed in arable land. It is native to Europe and North Africa. The whole plant feels rough and when dry the wiry angular stems being in a ball shape, can roll around giving rise to one of its common names - Tumbling Mustard - helping to disperse the seed. It is the food plant of some caterpillars such as those of the Small Cabbage White and Orange-tip butterflies. The picture on the right is a young plant and the one below is a mature plant.

Hedge Mustard has been cultivated for its leaves and seed. The leaves have a bitter cabbage taste and can be added to a salad or cooked as a vegetable. The seed are made into a paste to use as a condiment.

It has been made into a syrup with sugar or honey to soothe sore throats in folk medicine and was known as the Singer's Plant in France. The juice of the flowers is used to treat bronchitis, and stomach upsets. The Greeks believed it was an antidote for poisons and in Tibet it is used to ease the symptoms of food poisoning.

The basalleaves have 3 to 5 deep lobes on either side of the midrib held on a stalk and arranged in a rosette on a young plant. The leaves are less divided if at all further up the stem.

The yellow flowers have four petals typical of the Brassica family, and can be found for much of the year. After pollination the short conical seed-pods develop and unlike most members of the Brassicas they are held close to the stem.

The plants are easily uprooted and can be added to the compost if not bearing seed.

Weedkillers to use:-
A residual herbicide should prevent germination on paths.
Paraquat, Diquat contact action gives an immediate knock-down, so it should not have time to set seed, if caught in time.

pictue of Hedge Mustard
A mature bushy plant

Follow these links for further details on Weeds, Weed Removal and Weed Prevention.

image of Hedge Mustard