WINTER-CRESS

COMMON WINTER-CRESS

Barbarea vulgaris

Cabbage Family [Brassicaceae]

month8apr month8april month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8yellow
inner
inner8cream
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ4
type
typeZclustered
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8ribbed

12th May 2010, Staveley, Chesterfield Canal under re-construction. Photo: © RWD
Grows upright in a little-branched tower to 90cm high


14th May 2008, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Nelson. Photo: © RWD
As with all Winter-cresses, the flowers are yellow and in tight clusters at the top of several stalks.


14th May 2008, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Nelson. Photo: © RWD
Leaves semi-glossy and dark-green and on alternate sides of the stem.


14th May 2008, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Nelson. Photo: © RWD
Main stems ribbed. On Winter-cress (and on Small-flowered Winter-cress) the top-most stem-leaves are either simple, toothed, or lobed to less than half the way to the midrib.


14th May 2008, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Nelson. Photo: © RWD


12th May 2010, Staveley, Chesterfield Canal under re-construction. Photo: © RWD
Flowers in compact bunches lower and outer ones opening first leaving a tight cluster of green flower buds still to open in the centre.


14th May 2008, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Nelson. Photo: © RWD
On Winter-cress the flower buds are glabrous (hairy on apex for Small-flowered Winter-cress (Barbarea stricta)


12th May 2010, Staveley, Chesterfield Canal under re-construction. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have four slightly-notched petals which often assume a slightly squashed hemi-zygomorphic appearance despite nominally being actinomorphic. Flowers 7-9mm (largest, 7-10mm, on American Wintercress; a smaller 5-7mm on Early Winter-cress; and smallest, 5-6mm, on Small-flowered Winter-cress)


12th May 2010, Staveley, Chesterfield Canal under re-construction. Photo: © RWD
Leaves mid-stem are pinnately lobed on Winter-cresses.


14th May 2008, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Nelson. Photo: © RWD
Upper leaves often only have one pair of lobes, or none at all. End lobe is large and roundly toothed.


14th May 2008, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Nelson. Photo: © RWD
Lobed leaves near bottom of stem. Number of lobes varies a lot.


12th May 2010, Staveley, Chesterfield Canal under re-construction. Photo: © RWD
Basal leaves longer. These have 'sun-stroke' and are reddish as a protective measure.


Not to be semantically confused with : Winter Cress (Rorippa × sterilis) [an edible commercially-produced white-flowered cress 50cm tall with similar name]

Compared to Winter-cress which is up to 1m high, with flowers 7-9mm across, fruits (0.7) 1.5 - 3.2cm long, style (1.7)2mm - 3.5 (4mm long, and with basal leaves where the lateral leaflets are about the same width as the terminal lobe, Winter-cress is easily mistaken for :

  • American Wintercress (Barbarea verna) but this has the largest flowers (7-10mm across) and more than one fruit >4cm long
  • Medium-flowered Winter-cress (Barbarea intermedia) but this has smaller flowers at 5-7mm across, is a shorter plant at up to 60cm tall, and fruit 1.5-4cm long and style 0.6-1.7mm long.
  • Small-flowered Winter-cress (Barbarea stricta) but this has the smallest flowers at 5-6mm across, is just as tall as Winter-cress at up to 100cm tall, and fruit smaller still at 1.3-2.8cm long and style 05 - 1.8 (2.3)mm long. A distinguishing feature is that the basal leaves have a much wider terminal lobe than the other lateral leaflets on it.
(Common) Winter-cress is probably the only native plant amongst these Winter-cresses.

Some similarities to : Charlock (Sinapis arvensis) but that is branched and bushy (rather than upright and narrow) and the leaves are usually bristly and have un-even teeth and with just a couple of opposite lobes nearest the stem.

No relation to : Winter-greens such as Common Winter-green (Pyrola minor), Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) nor to Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) [plants with similar names belonging to a different family].

It is found on dampish ground near hedges, roadsides, waste places and streamsides throughout most of the UK. The flowers have six stamens with yellow anthers and the pods have a long style at the end (rather than a beak). It is very variable in features such as leaf shape, pod size, and is generally regarded as highly polymorphic, even more so on the Continent.


  Barbarea vulgaris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Brassicaceae  

Distribution
 family8Cabbage family8Brassicaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Barbarea
Barbarea
(Winter-cresses)

WINTER-CRESS

COMMON WINTER-CRESS

Barbarea vulgaris

Cabbage Family [Brassicaceae]