One Man’s Weeds – Pepper Cress

I know I’m a little strange, but I am very interested in the weeds that grow around my yard.  And why not?  They grow like crazy, don’t need any attention from me, and insects and birds seem to like them a lot.  Northwest Weeds by Ronald J. Taylor quotes Emerson as having written “A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”  In that spirit, I’m going to TRY to post some positive information about some of the weeds found in my yard.  Maybe, just maybe, they won’t seem quite as evil.

I’d like to start with a weed that is always present and won’t go away.  It pulls right out of the ground, but there is so much of it that I can never completely get rid of it.  Once the seeds have formed, simply touching the plant causes the seeds to jump up in the air and spread out over the ground.  They grow in the shade, in the sun, everywhere.

Finally, I’ve figured out what they are.

It is Pepper Cress, a member of the mustard family.  It is also known as Little Western Bitter-Cress.  According to Northwest Weeds by Ronald J. Taylor, it is probably a native of Eurasia, and “it is a particular nuisance in gardens.  However, it is edible and has a refreshing, albeit somewhat peppery, flavor.”

I consulted a couple of other guides that I have and they also claimed that this plant is edible.  So, yesterday I threw caution to the wind and tasted it.  It did leave a bit of an aftertaste in my mouth that could be described as peppery.  But, most importantly, I didn’t keel over with horrible pains or suffer from convulsions.  I was just fine.

I’ll still continue to pull them (I don’t use weed killers), because if I don’t they will completely take over every square inch of bare soil in the garden.  But, instead of just cursing them I’ll try to appreciate them at least just a little bit.

  1. Whoa, you can EAT those annoying plants? I had no idea. Alright, since you’re still standing I’ll follow your lead. I suppose since I was willing to lick a slug, I can manage pepper cress…

  2. Okay, I’ve also survived the experience (so far!). I nibbled on the tiny leaves–maybe the stems are edible too? Not bad, but I can’t say I’ll make a regular practice of eating pepper cress. Not like wood sorrel–I do like to sample them when I’m in the woods, tho.

    1. I read that the entire plant, including the flower, is edible. I agree- it doesn’t exactly taste delicious. I’m thinking maybe it is OK in an omelette?

  3. Amazing! These plants have been here all along and I just thought they were “weeds”. They didn’t taste like pepper, mustard or anything but they weren’t bad and certainly better than the dandylion leaves I tried. Been researching edible plants the past couple of weeks and can’t believe that Many of these plants are ones I’ve seen my whole life but never had a clue! I ate a wild violet leaf yesterday and it was rather pleasant. Our yard is full of them so I think I’ll try cooking some like spinach. Wish me luck!

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