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Field Mustard Brassica rapa (Brassica campestris)


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Field Mustard
credit: TeunSpaans/CCSA

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Alternate name: Rape

Family: Brassicaceae, Mustard view all from this family

Description A widely cultivated crop which is also a widespread weed, with yellow flowers, colonizing large areas with soft yellow flowers on slender stems.
Habit: introduced annual or biennial herb; erect blue-green stems rise from a basal rosette; fleshy or slender root.
Height: 12-40 in (0.3-1 m)
Leaf: in basal rosette, on winged stalk, lyrate, pinnately lobed, edges wavy or toothed, hairy, 4-16 in (100-400 mm) long or more, 1-4 in (30-100 mm) wide or more; on stalk, alternate, clasping.
Flower: pale yellow to deep yellow, 1/4 in (6 mm) wide, stalked, with 4 oval petals; held in loose, rounded terminal cluster.
Fruit: long narrow pod, 1-4.3 in (25-110 mm) long, 0.1-0.2 in (2-5 mm) diameter; held upright on stalk to 1 in (25 mm) long.

Warning Can be toxic to animals if eaten. Humans should generally avoid ingesting plants that are toxic to animals.

Flower April to September.

Habitat Roadsides, disturbed areas and waste places, cultivated fields, grain fields, orchards, gardens; to 5000 ft (1500 m); also widely cultivated agriculturally.

Range Native to Eurasia; introduced as an agricultural crop; now escaped cultivation and naturalized throughout North America and Hawaii.

Discussion Also known as rapeseed, bird's rape, wild rape, canola, birdsrape mustard, wild mustard, turnip, wild turnip, turnip mustard, turnip rape, wild rutabaga. Five varieties are recognized. Considered weedy or invasive in some areas; listed as a noxious weed in Michigan. It is grown for its leaves, seeds and root; the most important crops include rapeseed or canola, turnip (subsp. rapa), Chinese mustard or pakchoi, and Chinese cabbage or petsai.