Mediterranean mustard is an erect, canescent,
biennial or perennial growing to some 3' tall. The stems are branched
both from the base and above, and are covered with fine gray-white hairs.
The leaves are alternate with the basal ones being from 1-1/4"
to 4" long in a rosette, lyrate-pinnatifid with a large terminal
lobe and several pairs of somewhat separated smaller leaflets or lobes,
and the upper cauline leaves reduced, sessile, dentate to lobed, and
not clasping the stem. The flowers are in many terminal racemes
and are similar to most of the mustards we have in Southern California,
with four sepals, four light yellow petals about 3/16" long, and
six stamens, four long and two short. The fruit is a short-beaked
silique 1/2" long, erect and closely appressed to the stem, and
containing reddish-brown, oblong to ovoid seeds with a single row per
chamber. Mediterranean mustard, also called wild mustard or shortpod
mustard, formerly had the Latin name Brassica geniculata, and
is a common weed throughout Southern California, perhaps our most common
mustard. It can be found in waste places, fields, along roadsides,
and in creek bottoms below 5000', blooming from May to October. It
is a native of the Mediterranean region, and its young leaves and flowers
are edible. It is often confused with black mustard but to easily tell the difference see Tom Chester's analysis page here.
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Hirschfeldia 2) incana.
Pronunciation: hersh-FELD-ee-a in-KAY-na.
Click here for Botanical