Early Winter Cress

By William T. Hathaway

Early Winter Cress

The Early Winter Cress (Barbarea verna) is a common local weed naturalized from Europe. Its bright yellow flowers bloom from early March until middle June, decorating disturbed fields and damp, sandy habitats. These plants are biennials with overwintering leaves that form basal rosettes; the individual leaves have 10 to 20 lateral lobes terminating in a slender lobe.

It is occasionally used as a winter salad green called Scurvy Grass. In the local countryside I have heard it referred to as Creasy Salad.

There is another member of the Mustard family called Common Winter Cress that has leaves with just 8 lateral lobes, and the terminal lobe is large and oval. Both these species are different from the yellow turnip blooms that are seen in last year's turnip patches.