Barbara's Cress, Yellow

Rocket, Rocket Cress. Native. Biennial. Propagates by seeds. Time of bloom: April to June. Seed-lime: June to August. Range: Labrador to the Pacific Coast, southward to Virginia and the Middle West. Also native to Europe. Habitat: Fields, meadows, roadsides, and waste places.

This plant is easily distinguished from other Mustards by the large tufts of lyrate root-leaves, dark green, thick, smooth, shining, with heart-shaped terminal lobes and one to four lateral pairs along the midribs; these glossy green rosettes are very conspicuous when first appearing from beneath the winter snow; at that season they make excellent greens, and in Europe they are cultivated for use as a potherb. Even on St. Barbara's Day, which is the fourth of December, one may dig away the snow and find the plants green and succulent. Flowering stalks one to two feet tall, with leaves sessile and sometimes clasping. Flowers in open clusters, bright yellow, nearly an inch broad, sweet-scented. Siliques about an inch long, obscurely four-sided with valves keeled, the pedicels spreading but the pods nearly erect. Seeds brown, sometimes grayish with a coat of mucilage, flat, finely pitted; they are a common impurity of grass and clover seeds. (Fig. 139.)

Fig. 139.   Winter Cress (Barbarea vulgaris). X . 1/8

Fig. 139. - Winter Cress (Barbarea vulgaris). X . 1/8

Sheep are fond of Winter Cress and cattle feed on it with as greedy an appetite as on rape or turnips or other cultivated cruci-fers; for this reason its planting as forage has been advocated, but its weedy habit of never "staying put" should be considered.

Means Of Control

Spudding or hoe-cutting the rosettes from the roots in the first year of growth, and closely cutting the flowering stalks while they are in first bloom.