Barbarea vulgaris, also called as Bittercress, Herb Barbara, Rocketcress, Yellow Rocketcress, Winter Rocket, and Wound Rocket, is a biennial herb of the genus Barbarea, belonging to the familyBrassicaceae.
The genus name Barbarea derives fron Saint Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen and miners, as this plant in the past was used to soothe the wounds caused by explosions. The species Latin name vulgaris mens “common”.
This plant grows to about 30–60 centimetres (12–24 in) of height, with a maximum of 1 metre (3 ft 3 in). The stem is ribbed and hairless, branched at the base. It has a basal rosettes of shiny, dark green leaves. The basal leaves are stalked and lyre-pinnatifid, that is with a large terminal lobe and smaller lower lobes. The cauline leaves are smaller, ovate, toothed or lobed. The flowers are borne in spring in dense terminal clusters above the foliage. They are 7–9 millimetres (0.28–0.35 in) long, with four bright yellow petals.The flowering period extends from about April through July. The fruit is a pod of about 15–30 millimetres (0.59–1.2 in).
The plant is naturally resistant to some insect species. In the case of the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella, the resistance is caused by saponins. Other plant chemicals in this species are the glucosinolates glucobarbarin and glucobrassicin that attract cabbage white butterflies such as Pieris rapae. Said to be one of the plants constituting a spring tonic at its latitude.
The plant prefers fresh or moist places, on roadsides, river,s on the slopes and in ditches, at an altitude of 0–1,600 metres (0–5,200 ft) above sea level.
- Barbarea vulgaris var. arcuata (Opiz ex J. Presl & C. Presl) Fr.
- Barbarea vulgaris var. brachycarpa Rouy & Foucaud
- Barbarea vulgaris var. longisiliquosa Carion
- Barbarea vulgaris var. sylvestris Fr.
- Pignatti S. - Flora d'Italia – Edagricole – 1982, Vol. I, pag. 396
- Tutin, T.G. et al. - Flora Europaea, second edition - 1993