Rorippa sinuata (Spreading Yellow-cress)

Plant Info
Also known as: Creeping Yellow Cress, Western Yellowcress
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; moist to wet sandy or rocky soil; fields, along shores, river banks, rock pools, wet depressions, floodplains
Bloom season:April - July
Plant height:4 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
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 Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Small rounded clusters at the end of stems that elongate as the plant matures. Flowers are about ¼ inch across, with 4 bright yellow spoon-shaped petals 3 to 5.5 mm long and 6 yellow stamens in the center.

[photo of sepals] Alternating with the petals are 4 yellow sepals about half as long as the petals. Flower stalks are green and hairless.

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

[photo of mid-stem leaf] Leaves are 1 to 3 inches (3 to 8 cm) long and to 1 inch wide, deeply divided into narrow lobes that may be further lobed or irregularly toothed, becoming smaller and less divided as they ascend the stem. Lower leaves are oblong with 5 to 7 pairs of lobes. Typically several stems ascend from the base; lower stems and the underside of leaves are sparsely to densely covered in short, bladder-like hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a slender pod to ½ inch (5 to 12 mm) long, straight or curved upward, with the brown stub of the style persisting at the tip.


An infrequent non-weedy native species, occurrences are sparse across the south central parts of the state. The leaves may be confused with the non-native Dog Mustard (Erucastrum gallicum), which is stiffly hairy on leaves, stems and sepals, has flowers that are a pale yellow, and much longer fruits that are mostly straight. This species also lacks a basal rosette of leaves, which may further distinguish it from some other yellow mustards, and has what's known as vesicular hairs (hairs filled with fluid) especially along veins on the lower leaf surface, though these are not always present.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at a boat landing in La Crescent, Houston County, and at Louisville Swamp, Scott County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Houston, Scott and Stevens counties.


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

Posted by: Dalene - Cedar rapids Iowa
on: 2012-06-25 19:04:50

This plant appeared in my new flower bed. Did not know where it came from and is it a plant I should not let grow , I do not want an invasive plant to contend with. it has a 4foot spread, little floppy and about 30 inches tall. What should I do with it? Thank you

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-06-25 19:17:51

Dalene, Rorippa sinuata (spreading yellow-cress) is actually a native species, not invasive. If that is what you have it may have volunteered in your garden from seed left by a bird or some other animal. I get volunteers in my own yard all the time and I'm happy to get the natives rather than weeds. I'd let it grow, myself.

Based on your description, it is likely you have a different species of yellow-flowered mustard, as R. sinuata doesn't get that tall. There are many weedy species that can take over an area rather quickly. The shape of the leaves and seed pods are important for an accurate ID.

Posted by: T Wilke - Bremen Township
on: 2014-08-09 19:12:04

This volunteered in my "experimental" nursery bed in northern Pine County. Although it is damp bordering on wet in the spring, this is growing in an area that is high and dry. Will be watching it for a while before deciding what to do with it.

Posted by: Elizabeth Tiller - Spring Lake Reserve, Pine Bend Unity (Archery Trail)
on: 2020-07-12 20:35:35

One plant growing in the prairie along the driveay on the way into the parking area, about 100 feet away from road. Took a photo from a distance that shows sprawling nature and knobs on the pods. Had no idea it was native!

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