Friday, March 25, 2011

LOOK FOR: Bittercress


Photo credit: freethehops
If you've ever kept a garden, you've almost certainly weeded bittercress out of it. Go ahead and keep pulling it out -- the stuff seeds like crazy -- but consider saving some of those weeds and throwing them in your next salad.

Bittercress always grows in a rosette, with its leaves coming out of one central point. It sends up flower stalks from the middle of that rosette. The flowers are small and white, with four petals. The seedpods are thin and upright, along the flower stem. And yes, it's not even the end of March, and bittercress is already forming flowers and seeds here in the DC area.


Hairy Bittercress
Photo credit: Durlston Country Park
If you've ever mowed a lawn around here, you may be familiar with how this little plant manages to be so prolific. When the seeds are ripe, the slightest touch on a seedpod will send them flying everywhere. This year when it happens, just think of yourself as planting next year's salad!



Photo credit: Dandelion and Burdock
In the wild: You'll sometimes find bittercress in woods, but you're almost guaranteed to find it in open, grassy areas.

In your yard: Cultivation is beyond easy: you don't even have to plant it. It's almost certainly already growing in your yard, if you have one.  If not, I'm sure your neighbors would be glad to let you have some of theirs!