SMITH'S PEPPERWORT

Lepidium heterophyllum

(Formerly: Lepidium smithii)
Cabbage Family [Brassicaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8white
 
inner
inner8mauve
new
inner
inner8yellow
later
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ4
 
type
typeZspiked
 
stem
stem8round
 
sex
sexZbisexual
 

31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A perennial which grows either prostrate or erect to 45cm long.


31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Trying its' best to stand upright, but failing.


31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The plant is quite narrow, especially if it manages to hold its leaves upright close to the stem.


31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Fresh plants with leaves upright and hugging the stem with a slight twist. The inflorescence starts off as a tiny compact clump at the summit, a bit like a lit cigarette.


31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are progressing, growing larger and the 4 petals per floret spreading apart.


31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The petals are longer than the sepals (they are only scarcely longer for the similar Field Pepperwort)

The anthers are supposed to be reddish, but the red covering does drop off as it ages leaving cream coloured anthers visible.

Latent flowers on other plants are in various stages of development.



31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The leaves, which are numerous and mostly upright near the stem, have a pair of auricles straddling the stem behind the leaf. Occasionally, as on this particular specimen, the leaves can be saw-toothed on the edges (with substantial gaps between the teeth).


31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The petals (best seen on the flower at bottom right) are between 1.5 × longer than the sepals (they can be slightly longer than that in the similar Field Pepperwort - 1.5 to twice as long). There are 4 petals to each floret, each petal on a long greenish 'stalk' separating the 4 petals quite far apart from each other. A (at the moment green) tapering style is in the centre of the 4 petals. There are 6 stamens with anthers spreading away from each central style.

As yet unopened florets in the centre. The florets on the edge are being left behind on the sides of the stem as the main stem expands upwards from near the top.



31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Flowers are on their last legs at the summit, turning to fruit pods below as the inflorescence lengthens considerably, making room for the elongated seed pods, which are often angled upwards.


31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The anthers are reddish on Smith's Pepperwort (top left).


22nd April 2012, footpath, Bembridge, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Here the leaves, although again appressed upright to the stem, are without any teeth.


22nd April 2012, footpath, Bembridge, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The leaves can be hairy with very short hairs.


19th June 2007, footpath, Bembridge, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Flowers turned to fruit at the top; leaves below to ground-level.


19th June 2007, footpath, Bembridge, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The seed pods have two seeds either side of the centre-line making them bulge. There is a short section above the seeds where the pods are flat. The pods are also curve into a shallow cupped shape.


31st May 2007, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The style protrudes well above the fruit (in Field Pepperwort the style is below the tips of the two flanges either side of the fruit). The pods are cupped slightly.

The plant is hairy (in parts).


Not to be semantically confused with : Wall Pennywort (Umbilicus rupestris), Sweet Pepper (Capsicum annuum), Water-pepper (Persicaria hydropiper) or Pepper-saxifrage (Silaum silaus) [a plant with similar name]

Some similarities to : other Lepidium species.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The seed pods are the best identifying features: Smiths Pepperwort has a style overtopping its fruit (whereas the otherwise very similar Field Pepperwort (Lepidium campestre) has a shorter style not overtoping any part of its fruit - which is also not slightly cupped).


  Lepidium heterophyllum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Brassicaceae  

Distribution
 family8Cabbage family8Brassicaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Lepidium
Lepidium
(Pepperworts)

SMITH'S PEPPERWORT

Lepidium heterophyllum

(Formerly: Lepidium smithii)
Cabbage Family [Brassicaceae]