Sisymbrium officinale (Hedge Mustard)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:annual
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soils; roadsides, fields, waste areas, woodland edges
Bloom season:May - October
Plant height:10 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] Small clusters at the end of branching stems that elongate as the plant matures, with a few flowers open at the branch tip and fruit forming below it. Branches are spreading and curve upward as they extend, the plant taking on a candelabra-like form. Flowers are about 1/8 inch across with 4 rounded yellow petals and 6 greenish stamens with yellow tips surrounding a stout style in the center. The sepals surrounding the base of the flower are hairless to variously hairy.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of lower leaf] Leaves are up to 6 inches long and 2 inches wide, deeply divided into narrow to angular lobes, the tip lobe largest and triangular to arrowhead shaped in outline, with 2 to 5 pairs of lateral lobes. Surfaces are usually short-hairy, sometimes hairless. Edges vary from toothless to irregularly toothed to shallowly lobed. Stalks on lower leaves are up to 4 inches long.

[photo of upper leaf] Leaves become smaller, less divided and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem, the upper leaves with a single pair of narrow, outward pointing lobes. Stems are variously covered in spreading to downward pointing (deflexed) hairs, especially in the lower plant and may be hairless on the flowering branches. Plants can take on a bushy appearance from the numerous branches.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a very slender, straight pod 3/8 to nearly ¾ inch long, appressed to the stem, with the brown stub of the style at the tip.


Hedge Mustard is a weed of roadsides, agricultural fields and waste places, not often encountered but we suspect it may be more widespread than the herbarium records indicate. We came upon it in Houston County not far from where it was collected back in 1993. So it is persisting, and apparently spreading some. The yellow mustards can be difficult to distinguish as the flowers all look much the same. Hedge Mustard is most easily distinguished by the eye-catching, candelabra-like appearance of the branches with a few tiny flowers open at the tip and the straight, appressed fruits less than ¾ inch long. Most similar is Tall Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium loeselii), which has fruit about twice as long that is spreading and curved upward, flowers about twice the size, and more numerous flowers in roundish clusters at branch tips.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken along Christianson Hill Rd in Houston County. Sisymbrium officinale flowers by Keir Morse used under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.


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

Posted by: Tyler V - Minneapolis, Hennepin
on: 2017-06-25 18:36:50

It says it is relatively rare ...yet somehow I have a ton of it growing in my yard near downtown Minneapolis. Spent a day trading pictures with cousins who are professional botanists, and they settled on this plant. It has the extremely tiny flowers and the distinctive fruit. Guess we'll be experimenting with eating it!

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