prairie peppergrass

(Lepidium densiflorum var. densiflorum)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

prairie peppergrass

NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

Midwest

FAC - Facultative

Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

Nativity

Native

Occurrence

Common

Habitat

Dry to moist. Disturbed sites, roadsides, pastures.

Flowering

May to June

     
Flower Color

White petals when present, otherwise green sepals.

Height

8 to 20

     
 
Identification

This is a 8 to 20 tall, erect, annual or biennial forb that rises on usually a single stem from a slender, branching taproot.

At first it forms a rosette about 6 in diameter of basal leaves. The basal leaves are 1½ to 2¾ long and either coarsely toothed or untoothed and once lobed. When the plant is a biennial it overwinters in this form. Basal leaves are usually wilted by flowering time.

The flowering stems are erect or ascending. They are occasionally branched at the base, often branched in the upper third. They are covered with minute, straight, spreading hairs.

Lower stem leaves are similar to the basal leaves, alternate, narrowly inversely egg-shaped or linear, 1 to 3 long, and less than wide. They are on short leaf stalks and are sometimes lobed but are usually unlobed. The leaf blades are tapered at the base and taper to a point at the tip with straight sides along the tip. The upper surface is hairless. The lower surface is usually hairless, sometimes sparsely minutely hairy. The margins are usually untoothed.

Upper stem leaves are similar but smaller, linear, and stalkless but not clasping.

The inflorescence is a dense, unbranched cluster (raceme) at the end of the stems and branches. The racemes are compact when in flower, but quickly elongate as the fruits develop, eventually becoming up to 4 long. Typically, a few flowers are in bloom crowded at the top of the raceme, with developing and developed fruits below.

The individual flowers less than wide. There are 4 green, linear to narrowly elliptic sepals, and either 4 white petals or no petals at all. When petals are present they are no longer than the sepals. There is no floral scent.

The fruit is a flattened, 1 16 to long, broadly egg-shaped, seed pod. It is widest above the middle. The tip is narrowly winged and has a broad, shallow notch. It is initially green, turning brownish when dry. It is on a stalk that is spreading or ascending.

 
Similar
Species

Bigseed pepperweed (Lepidium densiflorum var. macrocarpum) has larger fruits.

Clasping pepper grass (Lepidium perfoliatum) upper stem leaves are broadly egg-shaped to circular and perfoliate or strongly clasping with auricles that surround the stem and overlap.

Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) fruits are much larger, 5 16 to ¾ long, and are broadly winged all around, not just at the tip.

Gardencress pepperweed (Lepidium sativum) fruits are on stalks that are closely ascending or almost erect. The fruits are larger, 3 16 to ¼ wide.

Virginia pepper grass(Lepidium virginicum var. virginicum) is nearly indistinguishable when not in flower. The flowers always have petals. The petals are as long to twice as long as the sepals. The fruits are mostly round, widest at the middle.

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 29, 30.

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Family:

Brassicaceae (mustard)

 

Tribe:

Lepidieae

 
Parent

prairie peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum)

 
Synonyms

Lepidium densiflorum var. typicum

Lepidium neglectum

Lepidium texanum

 
Common
Names

common peppergrass

common peppergweed

green-flowered peppergrass

miner’s pepperwort

prairie peppergrass

prairie pepperweed

prairie pepperwort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Auricle

A small, ear-like projection at the base of a leaf or at the junction of a grass blade and stem.

 

Clasping

Describing a leaf that wholly or partly surrounds the stem but does not fuse at the base.

 

Linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

Perfoliate

A leaf having margins that entirely surround the stem, giving the appearance that the stem is growing through the leaf.

 

Raceme

An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.

       
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Plant

  prairie peppergrass   prairie peppergrass
       

Inflorescence

  prairie peppergrass    
       

Infructescence

  prairie peppergrass   prairie peppergrass
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Lepidium campestre FIELD CRESS
Frank Mayfield
 
  Lepidium campestre FIELD CRESS  

 

slideshow

       
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MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
         

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Blazing Star Prairie Addition, South Unit

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McKnight Prairie

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

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Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Touch the Sky Prairie Unit

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Regal Meadow

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St. Croix State Park

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

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