Barbarea vulgaris (Garden Yellow Rocket)

Plant Info
Also known as: Winter Cress, Yellow-rocket
Genus:Barbarea
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:biennial
Origin:Eurasia
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist fields, edges of woods, along roads, along shores
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in rounded clusters 1 to 1½ inches across at the top of branching stems in the upper plant. Individual flowers are about 1/3 inch across, with 4 yellow petals, 6 yellow-tipped stamens, a slender style, and 4 yellow-green sepals. Clusters elongate as the plant matures, with flowers blooming at the tip and fruit forming along the stem below.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves become progressively smaller as they ascend the stem. Near the base of the plant they are deeply lobed with a large rounded lobe at the tip and 1 to 4 pairs of small rounded lobes on the stalk. Basal leaves are up to 6 inches long and 2½ inches wide; the edges are often somewhat wavy. Stem leaves typically have a pair of lobes (auricles) at the base of the stalk that clasp the stem.

[photo of upper leaves] At the top of the plant leaves are rather smaller and somewhat variable, may be unlobed, wedge shaped to oval or shallowly lobed with little or no stalk. The upper surface of all leaves is dark green and glossy. Attachment is alternate. Stems are branched, hairless, ridged or angled, purplish or green with purple streaks or stripes. Multiple stems arise from the base, forming a clump.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit]  Fruits are slender green pods about 1 inch long that typically angle or curve up. The pods hold numerous tiny brown seeds.

Notes:

Garden Yellow Rocket is a pest plant from Eurasia that doesn't typically invade high quality habitat, but thrives in disturbed soil such as along roadsides, fields and construction sites. It can form large colonies, but scattered plants are encountered as well. It is a common sight along roadsides in spring, like the massive infestation found along a county road in Washington County (see image below). It is very similar in nearly all respects to the native American Yellow Rocket (Barbarea orthoceras); while there are small differences in flower size, leaf shape and fruit arrangement, it is most easily distinguished by at least some stem leaves having a fringe of hairs around the auricles, where Garden Yellow Rocket auricles are all hairless.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey and Washington counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Shehnaz - brooklyn center
on: 2010-04-30 08:42:45

They are growing in my flower bad in my front yard, i keep them contained to the bed. They are pretty early bloomers.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2010-04-30 14:27:43

How can you be so certain they are contained? They easily spread to roadsides, woodland edges, and your neighbors' yards. It's a noxious weed. You should get rid of it.

Posted by: Dori - LeSueur County
on: 2010-04-30 22:06:00

While walking on our county road with a friend, we noticed this flower blooming in the ditch alongside the road. Have never noticed it before.

Posted by: Robin - Northwood Park, New Hope, MN.
on: 2011-05-13 16:55:12

5/13/11 These are just starting to open. There should be a lot open soon.

Posted by: Neil - Millville
on: 2011-05-22 16:09:47

We have this around where I live. It's also known as Wintercress and it's not really a bad thing to have around. The leaves only (before flowering) are mainly used as food, for salads, and as a pot herb, or fried, and it's high in vitamin C and minerals. It's also used as a bitter medicinal tea to stimulate appetite, purify and strengthen blood (the Cherokee Indians practiced this), for coughs, and as a diuretic. Caution is advised in eating the raw plant, only small amounts 1 tbls. chopped leaves or less. Make sure you only consume from plants that are grown in pure clean soil because wintercress has an amazing ability to store contaminates, even pesticides, from the soil or water it grows in. There's an abundance of information about it's medicinal and edible uses if you Google the scientific name.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2011-05-22 21:03:57

I can't really get very excited about its benefits to humans when I see it choking roadsides everywhere I go, like wild parsnip does in SE Minnesota. Please feel free to rid our landscape of yellow rocket, as it is an invasive pest that is spreading.

Posted by: B. Anspach - Bemidji Beltrami
on: 2011-05-24 19:17:33

Found some of this in my back yard as I was mowing this am. It was a bit smaller than the ID specs but, in northern MN there shouldn't be any yellow flowers out there this time of year (on dry ground) that are native plants so I started looking it up to see what it was.

Posted by: Jane - Hennepin
on: 2011-05-30 21:34:59

This plant is not on the prohibited noxious weed list, nor is it on the restricted noxious weed list.

It is only on the secondary noxious weed list which means that a county, if it so chooses, can add it to the list of prohibited or restricted noxious weeds. People can grow, import it, do whatever they like with it as long as their county doesn't view it as a problem. That is done for species that in some local environments can turn into real problems but usually are OK, like this one.

You're throwing out the baby with the bathwater if you confound the two types of list.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2011-05-30 22:13:20

Jane, based on your other comments, you seem to have a fondness for invasive plants. I'm not really sure what point you are trying to make citing noxious weed lists, however, you may not be aware that "noxious weeds" are strictly an agricultural label, not an ecological one.

The Minnesota Dept of Agriculture regulates the noxious weeds in Minnesota. They are not an environmental agency so they make no consideration as to environmental factors, only agricultural factors. They are also a regulatory agency, not an enforcement or control agency.

Regardless of what you personally think of any particular plant, non-natives are killing our ecosystems more and more every year. Yellow rocket is now thick along every roadside I travel. It worries me that it and other weeds are allowed to run amok like this. Do you ever think that your children and their children won't know the beauty of a healthy native plant community because the only thing left will be weeds? I wonder if we as a community will ever open our eyes and see the damage plants like this are causing. Can we do anything to stop this destruction?

Posted by: Lucinda - south Isanti County
on: 2014-06-01 09:53:41

We have never had this on our farm before (at least not in notable amounts), but this year it is everywhere.

Posted by: Gayle - Lake County
on: 2014-06-25 18:16:08

I'm noticing this plant blooming in large quantities at Gooseberry Falls State Park, along Hwy 61 and Scenic 61, and at the Two Harbors Lighthouse. I've never noticed it before in such large quantities and had a hard time finding it in North Shore flower books. If there some reason it is so abundant this year?

Posted by: Jan - Scott County Jordan Area
on: 2015-05-12 08:50:22

Found one plant by the side of our driveway, haven't seen it before. Pulled it out and will keep an eye out for more.

Posted by: Maureen - Lakeville
on: 2015-05-14 07:28:30

I just saw this blooming in my butterfly garden in an area that had been disturbed last summer (by a dog digging a huge hole). Then I noticed it in a couple more spots in my front garden. I will go out and pull it up. I live on the edge of the woods, plus some grassy areas, and don't want it to take over. I really don't like take over plants and understand the importance of preserving native species. I have been working on the buckthorn problem for years. Unfortunately, some people think it is "the woods" and take exception to it being removed. They don't have a clue as to the damage it is doing to the woodlands.

Posted by: Bonnie - Grand Rapids
on: 2015-05-31 13:57:35

I saw this growing in my one year old flower bed and let it bloom just so I could identify it. Last year, we had soil brought in from a local garden center, and I thought maybe it would be a "special" type of plant, but now I will pull it as I don't want it taking over my new bed!

Posted by: Scott - MN
on: 2016-04-20 02:31:35

These plants make a delicious stir fry as well as used sparingly in salads. One of my favorite greens. I don't see any evidence that they are "choking out" native species. What native species have been threatened by yellow rocket? Sheesh, people wanting to eliminate a free, healthy food source. #firstworldproblems

Posted by: Maureen - Lakeville
on: 2016-05-02 08:30:17

I just noticed this out in my back yard just beyond some trees. It is growing in the field-like area that I was hoping to see more things like milkweed and native plants in. A couple years ago we had to have a bunch of oak trees cut down, hence, the field. After thinking about this, and reading all the comments, I think I will pull it out.

Posted by: Laurie O - Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park
on: 2017-05-04 06:52:34

Found this growing alongside the road at the parking lot off of Aqua street.

Posted by: Marilyn H - St. James, Watonwan County, MN
on: 2017-05-17 11:44:54

We had one plant that exactly fits this description in our garden. This was new on our property this year. It was at the edge of our garden, which is next to a field of grasses, alfalfa, clover... and burdock, which is also trying to move in. We recently lost large spruce trees in weather events and since then, this plant showed up. It was pretty, but we prefer not to have this take over our small organic garden space. This is an informative site..thanks!

Posted by: Delayne D - Grand Portage
on: 2017-05-27 08:58:03

This just came up in my yard, first time ever.

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