Nothing about this odd-looking plant is pretty and it almost seems as if it were trying to make up by eccentricity for its lack of beauty. It is common in dry, sandy places in the mountains and our attention is first attracted to the tall, branching stalks, because they are strung with such queer-looking leaves. In summer the upper ones are bright-yellow or dull-purple and they clasp the stem and curve over, so that they look like small brass shields, pierced by the stem. There are three or four of these curving leaves, very smooth and shiny, and several more below, which are flatter and dark-green, and the stem, from six inches to three feet high, is oddly twisted and leans to one side. The small flowers are yellowish or mauve, veined with purple, less than half an inch long and peculiar in shape. The contrast in color between the flowers and leaves is very odd and very ugly, but as if this were not enough, later in the season the curious thing hangs itself with ridiculously long, slender pods, like great hooks, and looks queerer and more disheveled than ever.
Shield-leaf-S.tortuosus. MUSTARD FAMILY. Cruciferae.