Erysimum asperum (Western Wallflower)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:biennial, short-lived perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; rocky or sandy soil; hills, open plains and prairies, roadsides, river banks
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:2 to 18 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] Elongating cluster of stalked flowers at the tip of stems arising from leaf axils in the upper plant, and at the top of the stem. Flowers are bright yellow to orange-yellow, about ¾ inch across with 4 rounded petals and 6 stamens.

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

[photo of lower leaves] Basal leaves, often withering away by fruiting time, are up to 4 inches long and ½ inch wide, widest above the middle, with a few widely spaced teeth, a pointed tip, and gradually tapering at the base.

[photo of upper stem leaves] Upper leaves are mostly toothless or with a few widely spaced teeth. All leaves are densely covered in short, star-shaped hairs and can give a gray-green appearance. Stems are rough-hairy, angled, may be multiple from the base and are mostly unbranched except in the flower clusters.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a slender pod about 3 inches long, straight to slightly curved, and typically perpendicular to the stem.


Western Wallflower is at the eastern edge of its range in Minnesota. It is not considered a rare species in the state even though there are only 7 records of it in the Bell Herbarium, the most recent collected back in 1962. We searched for it for several years both in likely habitats and at previously known locations, but finally had to go to North Dakota to track it down, not so far from the MN state line. It has possibly (likely?) been extirpated here. The large flowers and long fruits of Western Wallflower set it apart from both Wormseed Wallflower (Erysimum cheiranthoides), a common weedy species, and Small-flowered Wallflower (Erysimum inconspicuum).

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in western North Dakota.


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

Posted by: Jonathan - Edina, MN
on: 2016-05-20 12:52:49

Several clumps, more orange than yellow, in bright bloom in my small backyard prairie (May 20, 2016). Prairie planted seven years ago; first time I have seen it is this year.

Posted by: Laura - Sherburne County (Clear Lake)
on: 2024-05-17 08:51:26

I planted some wildflower seeds last year and think one that came up is an orange western wallflower.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2024-05-17 08:57:28

Laura, be careful about purchasing "wildflower" seed mixes, since they frequently contain non-native and potentially invasive species. Best to purchase from a reputable native plant vendor, a number of which do mail order.

Posted by: Lisa - Saint Charles
on: 2024-05-19 17:51:28

On a wooded hillside

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2024-05-19 18:05:13

Lisa, I wouldn't expect to find this species in Winona County, unless it was planted. There are a number of yellow mustards that bloom in May, most of which are weeds.

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