Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This is a native plant in a family that is dominated by introduced plants from Eurasia. The various members of the Mustard family are often difficult to distinguish from each other. The most distinctive feature of this species is the rounded oval shape of the small flat seedpods, each with a tiny notch at the tip. The seedpods of similar species tend to be shaped somewhat differently, or have a larger size. Other kinds of mustards have long slender seedpods, called 'siliques,' with a very different appearance. The peppery young leaves of Common Peppergrass are edible, and can be added to salads. Return
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Description

This native plant is a winter annual or biennial. It is initially a low-growing rosette with pinnatifid leaves up to 3" long. Later, the stems bolt upward, branching occasionally to frequently, and the plant becomes about ¾-1½' tall. When fully developed, it frequently has a bushy appearance, particularly in the absence of much competition. The cauline leaves are up to 3½" long and ¾" across, and usually oblanceolate or obovate. They are sessile at the base (appearing to have winged petioles), and the larger leaves have a few coarse teeth toward their tips. The stems are green or slightly reddish pink, and are covered with fine white hairs that are very short. The upper stems terminate in cylindrical racemes about 2-4" long that have small white flowers. Each flower has 4 white petals and 4 green sepals, and is less than 1/8" across. A typical raceme will have a few flowers in bloom at the top, while below they have been replaced by seedpods about 1/8" across at varying stages of maturity. Each flattened seedpod has a round oval shape with a small notch at the tip. Various plants can be in bloom anytime from late spring to fall, peaking during early summer. The flowers have no noticeable scent. The individual seedpods can be carried a short distance by the wind, while on other occasions an entire raceme of mature seedpods will become detached from the mother plant and tumble away in the wind. The root system consists of a slender, branching taproot.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Common Peppergrass is very common and occurs in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). It can be found occasionally in disturbed areas of mesic to dry black soil prairies, clay prairies, gravel prairies, and hill prairies. However, it is more common in developed areas, including fields, pastures, vacant lots, roadsides and railroads, lawns and gardens, gravelly junkyards, and other waste areas.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Shandong, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Bhutan, India, Japan, Pakistan, Russia; native to North America; introduced elsewhere].
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Distribution: Native of N. America, introduced in Europe and other cooler countries.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Annual, 30-50 cm tall, often unbranched above, erect, minutely hairy on the stem or + downy with long downwardly curved, appressed simple hairs on raised bases. Basal leaves lyrate or pinnately lobed with large rounded terminal lobe and numerous much smaller lateral lobes, up to 8 cm long, rough with short bristles; middle and cauline leaves simple, sharply toothed and ciliate; uppermost linear, c. 15 mm long, 2 mm broad. Flowers similar to the previous species but petals always present and longer than sepals. Siliculae 3-(-4) mm long, 2.5-3(-3.5) mm broad, almost orbicular with a broad but shallow notch towards the aepx including almost sessile stigma within it.
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Description

Herbs annual or biennial, (6-)15-55(-70) cm tall, pubescent with curved, usually subappressed trichomes. Stems erect, branched above. Basal leaves with petioles 0.5-3.5 cm; leaf blade obovate, spatulate, or oblanceolate, (1-)2.5-10(-15) × 0.5-3(-5) cm, margin pinnatifid or lyrate; lobes oblong, serrate or dentate, apex acute. Cauline leaves shortly petiolate; leaf blade oblanceolate or linear, 1-6 cm × (2-)5-10 mm, base attenuate to subcuneate, margin serrate or entire, apex acute. Infructescence lax or rarely dense; puberulent with curved, subappressed trichomes. Fruiting pedicels slender, straight, spreading, 2.5-4(-6) mm, usually glabrous abaxially. Sepals oblong, (0.5-)0.7-1(-1.1) × 0.5-0.7 mm, margin and apex white, pilose outside. Petals white, spatulate, 1-1.5(-2) × 0.2-0.6 mm, base attenuate, apex rounded, rarely rudimentary. Stamens 2; filaments 0.6-0.8 mm; anthers 0.1-0.2 mm. Fruit orbicular, 2.5-3.5(-4) mm in diam., narrowly winged apically, apex emarginate; apical notch 0.2-0.5 mm; style 0.1-0.2 mm, included in apical notch. Seeds reddish brown, ovate-oblong, usually narrowly winged at least distally, 1.3-1.7(-1.9) × 0.7-1 mm; cotyledons accumbent. Fl. Apr-Jun, fr. May-Sep. 2n = 32*.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Common Peppergrass is very common and occurs in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). It can be found occasionally in disturbed areas of mesic to dry black soil prairies, clay prairies, gravel prairies, and hill prairies. However, it is more common in developed areas, including fields, pastures, vacant lots, roadsides and railroads, lawns and gardens, gravelly junkyards, and other waste areas.
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Fields, roadsides, waste places, grassy areas; near sea level to 1000 m.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

The tiny flowers appear to be visited primarily by Syrphid flies for nectar. Other occasional flower visitors include Little Carpenter bees, Halictine bees, Masked bees (Hylaeus spp.), Eumenine wasps, Tachinid flies, Anthomyiid flies, and others. However, Common Peppergrass is probably capable of self-pollination without the assistance of these insects. The caterpillars of a few species of butterflies and moths feed on the foliage and other parts of this plant, including Pieris rapae (Cabbage White), Pontia protodice (Checkered White), Eustixia pepula (Snout Moth), and Evergestis pallidota (Purple-Backed Cabbage Worm Moth). The peppery leaves are probably not favored by mammalian herbivores, although rabbits and groundhogs may consume small plants during the spring when little else is available. Photographic Location
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Flower-Visiting Insects of Common Peppergrass in Illinois

Lepidium virginicum (Common Peppergrass)
(Bees collect pollen or suck nectar, other insects nectar; most observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from Moure & Hurd as indicated below)

Bees (long-tongued)
Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn fq, Ceratina calcarata sn fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn, Augochlorella aurata sn cp fq, Halictus confusus sn, Halictus ligatus sn, Lasioglossum cinctipes sn, Lasioglossum coreopsis sn, Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp, Lasioglossum nymphalis (MH), Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus (MH), Lasioglossum tegularis sn cp, Lasioglossum versatus sn; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes eulophi sn; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis sn fq, Hylaeus mesillae sn, Hylaeus modestus modestus sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena personata sn cp

Wasps
Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Oxybelus mexicanus; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Stenodynerus ammonia, Stenodynerus histrionalis, Stenodynerus oculeus; Pompilidae: Anoplius illinoensis, Anoplius tenebrosus

Flies
Stratiomyidae: Nemotelus glaber; Syrphidae: Eristalis dimidiatus, Helophilus fasciatus, Paragus bicolor, Paragus tibialis, Syritta pipiens, Toxomerus marginatus fq; Conopidae: Zodion fulvifrons fq; Tachinidae: Cylindromyia euchenor, Gymnoclytia immaculata, Gymnoclytia occidua, Gymnosoma fuliginosum, Leucostoma simplex, Periscepsia laevigata, Phasia purpurascens; Sarcophagidae: Helicobia rapax; Calliphoridae: Lucilia illustris, Lucilia sericata; Muscidae: Limnophora narona, Neomyia cornicina; Anthomyiidae: Delia platura fq; Fanniidae: Fannia manicata fq

Butterflies
Pieridae: Pontia protodice

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Foodplant / spot causer
colony of Pseudocercosporella anamorph of Mycosphaerella capsellae causes spots on live leaf of Lepidium virginicum

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flower/Fruit

Fl. Per.: April June.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Lepidium virginicum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lepidium virginicum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun and moist to dry conditions. The soil can contain loam, gravel, or clay, and range from sterile to highly fertile. The lower leaves may turn yellow and wither away during a drought, but this is normal. This weedy plant reseeds itself readily and can spread to undesirable locations.
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Wikipedia

Lepidium virginicum

Lepidium virginicum, also known as Virginia pepperweed or peppergrass, is an annual or biennial plant in the Brassicaceae or mustard family. It is native to much of North America, including most of the United States and Mexico and southern regions of Canada, as well as most of Central America. It can be found elsewhere as an introduced species.

Contents

Description [edit]

As with Lepidium campestre, Virginia pepperweed's most identifiable characteristic is its raceme, which comes from the plant's highly branched stem.[1] The racemes give Virginia pepperweed the appearance of a bottlebrush.[1] On the racemes are first small white flowers, and later greenish fruits. The entire plant is generally between 10 and 50 centimeters tall.

The leaves on the stems of Virginia pepperweed are sessile, linear to lanceolate and get larger as they approach the base.[1] Note that all parts of the plant have a peppery taste.

Cultivation and uses [edit]

Virginia pepperweed grows as a weed in most crops and is found in roadsides, landscapes and waste areas.[1] It prefers sunny locales with dry soil.

The plant is edible. The young leaves can be used as a potherb, sauted or used raw, such as in salads.[2] The young seedpods can be used as a substitute black pepper. The leaves contain protein, vitamin A and vitamin C.[2]

References [edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), Pp. 178-179.
  2. ^ a b Allen Peterson, Edible Wild Plants, (New York City: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977), p. 26.
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Notes

Comments

The seeds are used medicinally.
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