Clasping Peppergrass
Lepidium perfoliatum L.
Family: Brassicaceae, Mustard
Genus: Lepidium
Synonyms:
Other names: clasping pepperweed
Nomenclature: perfoliatum = leaves joined around stem
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant, weed
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: simple to freely branched annual 20-60 cm tall, usually somewhat short-hairy below, hairless and covered with waxy coating above.

Leaves: the basal ones bi- or tripinnatifid into narrow, linear segments, the lower stem leaves usually similar, alternate, gradually modified upward and becoming ovate, pointed, cordate, clasping stem with large ear-like lobes at the base, entire or sometimes with small teeth.

Flowers: numerous in dense clusters, later becoming elongate. Flower stalks slender, spreading-ascending, about 5 mm long. The 4 sepals brownish at least toward the tip, about 1 mm long. The 4 petals about 1.5 mm long, narrowly spatulate, yellowish. Stamens usually 6. April-June.

Fruits: pods, rhombic-ovate, about 4 mm long and as broad, strongly flattened, hairless or occasionally slightly short-hairy, barely winged at the tip, slightly notched, the space about 0.2 mm deep. Style about 0.2 mm long.


Distribution

Mostly on dry, waste or overgrazed land, in most parts of MT. A well established and very widespread European weed, common in much of the U.S.
Edible Uses

Young leaves of clasping peppergrass are edible raw or cooked. They have a hot cress-like flavor.



Medicinal Uses

The plant has been used as an antiscorbutic.


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