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Black Mustard Brassica nigra


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Black Mustard - habit
credit: H. Zell/CCSA

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Family: Brassicaceae, Mustard view all from this family

Description Weedy aromatic plant cultivated for its seeds.
Habit: introduced annual herb; spreading stems, sometimes roughly hairy at base, smooth and branched at top; taprooted.
Height: 0.5-8 ft (0.15-2.4 m)
Leaf: alternate, stalked; at base, usually pinnately lobed and lyrate with much larger terminal lobe, sometimes bristly; above, elliptic or lanceolate, simple or lobed or toothed, becoming smaller; to 10 in (25 cm) long, to 3 in (7.5 cm) wide.
Flower: 4-lobed, yellow, to 0.3 in (8 mm) wide; in club-shaped terminal cluster, 6-24 in (15-60 cm) tall.
Fruit: narrow, straight, 4-sided pod, beaked, held erect; 0.5-0.75 in (12-19 mm) long, rarely to 1 in (25 mm).

Flower May to October.

Habitat Roadsides, railways, meadows, thickets, disturbed areas, waste places, cultivated fields, orchards; to 5000 ft (1500 m); also cultivated as a cover crop, for spice and for use in condiments.

Range Native to Mediterranean Basin; introduced; naturalized throughout North America, except Alaska and northern Canada; not reported in Colorado, Arkansas, Georgia or South Carolina; especially common in California.

Discussion Also called shortpod mustard, brown mustard. Considered weedy or invasive in some locations; listed as noxious in Michigan.