Common Winter-cress

Common Winter-cress
Common Winter-cress. Barbarea vulgaris.
Brassicaceae, the mustard family.

Plant: Branched plant with crowded, elongated clusters of small, yellow, four-petaled flowers above pinnately lobed leaves. Annual.
Flowers: Yellow, with four squarish petals, and six stamens, to 1/2". Long fruit starts growing out of the flower while it is still blooming.
Leaves: Lower ones pinnately compound, usually with five lobes, the terminal one large and rounded, "violin shaped", sessile. Upper ones smaller, often clasping the stem.
Fruit: Long, thin, 3/4"-1.5", standing erect along stem. Classic "mustard" form.
Blooming: May-August
Habitat: Moist fields, streamsides, waste areas near buildings.

Comments: An early-blooming, introduced mustard, it often forms bright yellow patches in fields. The common name derives from the fact that the plant will sometimes grow during warm spells in early winter. The young leaves and stems can be cooked as a potherb. Cooking in two waters will reduce the bitter qualities. The young leaves can also be eaten raw as a bitter salad green.

Where to find it: In scattered patches southwest of the parking lot, and some other locations.