Tumble Mustard

Tumble_Mustard_jpgThe Brassicaceae family commonly known as the Mustard or Crucifer family consists of 390 genera and 3,000 species of herbs and shrubs.  The flowers’ four petals are in the shape of a cross (Latin crucifer means “cross-bearing”).  The Brassicaceae family includes many economically important plants including the vegetables cabbage, kale, cauliflower, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, cress, turnip, radish, kohlrabi and rutabaga.  The condiment mustard is the ground seed of Bassica or Sinapis species.  An ancestral cabbage was cultivated about 8,000 years ago in coastal areas of northern Europe.  Cruciferous oil seeds, from species ofBassica, rank fifth in the 1990s in economic importance after soybeans, cotton seed, ground nut and sunflower seed.  Some Mustard plants are called Rocket, which is derived from eruca, Latin for “cabbage”. Tumble Mustard is a weed of fields and waste places.  The oily seeds of the Mustards are fed to cagebirds, are relished by upland gamebirds and songbirds. Another member of this genus Sisymbrium officinale known as “Hedge Mustard” is edible and has medicinal properties.  The young leaves can be cooked as a vegetable and the seeds used to flavor soups and stews.  It has been reported that the pungent seeds can be used to treat chronic cough, hoarseness and ulceration of the mouth.


Jim Hill Mustard


Sisymbrium altissimum




Naturalized from Europe




to 3 feet


June to September


Throughout United States and southern Canada ~ Statewide outside Pine Barrens in New Jersey ~ often a weed in fields and road sides


May to late August


Erect, loosely, branched above ~ Flower pale yellow ~ Seeds oblong ~ Leaves long linear segments, smooth