The Brassica family and their useful plants; Part 3

Cakile maritima or Sea Rocket as growing on the Lizard peninsula, Cornwall (Matt Summers)

Mostly the yellow flowered plants in the Brassica or Crucifer family were covered in the previous Part 2.

In Part 3, I will write about the pink and/or white flowered Crucifers which inhabit these Isles.

I follow the order of The Wild Flower Key as this has useful pictures which make identifying this somewhat unfamiliar and confusing family a lot easier!

I use the Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora link on the First, italic, scientific names, so you can find out where it is likely to be found growing in the wild. You can also find other useful information here, especially its growing habitat and conditions!

On the Common Name link you can also find more information as well as useful pictures. Pictures in this post are by Matt Summers, Mike Poulton and sourced through Wikipedia Common with thanks.

Please use Jump-links in contents to read more about the individual genera & species on the next page!


Group 5: Pink and/or white flowered Crucifers with elongated fruits.

Matthiola, Hesperis, Cakile & Lunaria
  • Matthiola incana or Hoary Stock
  • Matthiola sinuata or Sea Stock
  • Hesperis matronalis or Dame’s-violet
  • Cakile maritima or Sea Rocket
  • Lunaria annua or Honesty
Arabis & Arabidopsis
Alliaria petiolata or Jack-by-the-Hedge/ Garlic Mustard
Draba & Drabella

Group 6: White flowered Crucifers with short fruits

Microthlaspi, Noccaea and Thlaspi
  • Microthlaspi perfoliatum or Cotswold (Perfoliate) Penny-cress
  • Noccaea caerulescens or Alpine Penny-cress
  • Thlaspi arvense or Field Penny-cress
  • Teesdalia nudicaulis or Shepard’s Cress
Capsella, Iberis, Erophila
  • Capsella bursa-pastoris or Shepard’s-purse
  • Iberis amara or Wild Candytuft
  • Erophila verna or Common Whitlowgrass
Cochlearia, Lobularia, Hornungia
  • Cochlearia officinalis agg or Common Scurvygrass
  • Cochlearia danica or Danish scurvygrass
  • Cochlearica anglica or English Scurvygrass/ Long-leaved Scurvygrass
  • Lobularia maritima or Sweet Alison
  • Hornungia petraea or Hutchinsia

Group 7: White flowered Crucifers with very large leaves

Crambe & Armoracia
  • Crambe maritima or Sea-kale
  • Armoracia rusticana or Horse-radish
Continue reading “The Brassica family and their useful plants; Part 3”

The Brassica family and their useful plants; Part 2

Wild Cabbage at Old Harry Rocks, Dorset
Wild Cabbage growing near Old Harry Rocks in Dorset! (by Matt Summers)

In this post some more useful members of the Brassica or Crucifer family. It covers most of the yellow flowered ones!

In Part 3, I will write about the pink and/or white flowered Crucifers which inhabit these Isles.

And these are the plants I covered earlier in Part 1- just to give a small variety of useful Crucifers!

  • Erophila verna or Common Whitlowgrass 
  •  Cardamine pratensis or Cuckoo Flower, Lady’s Smock
  • Capsella bursa-pastoris or Shepard’s purse 
  • Arabidopsis thaliana or Thale Cress 
  •  Cochlearia danica or Danish Scurvygrass
  • Alliaria petiolata or Jack-by-the-Hedge , Garlic Mustard and Hedge Garlic
  •  Cardamine hirsuta or Hairy Bitter-cress
  •  Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum or Water-cress

Family 87: the Brassica, Crucifer or Cabbage Family, scientifically known as the Brassicaceae, has approx 52 genera in the British Isles according to Stace! Not all are strictly native but it is an important family for our well known vegetables such as all types of cabbages, radishes, and root vegetables such as Swedes and Turnips!

I use colour coding for easy reading! Blue background is general information about the plant from Online Atlas. Green is about all the uses except for medicinal uses or if there is a warning in which case I use a pink background. This time most pictures are from Wikipedia and illustrations by Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen , Johann Georg Sturm (Painter: Jacob Sturm) – Figures from Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen at, Public Domain as well as other illustrations as added in links.

Please use the Jump-links in the Contents in order to get easily to the plants described on next page!


How to identify the Brassicas/Crucifers and the 7 main groups

Group 1: yellow flowered Crucifers with jointed fruits
  • Coincya monensis ssp. monensis or Isle-of-Man Cabbage
  • Coincya wrightii or Lundy Cabbage
Sisymbrium officinale or Hedge Mustard
Hirschfeldia incana or Hoary Mustard
Group 2: yellow or orange flowered Crucifers with elongated fruits
Erysimum cheiranthoides or Treacle-mustard
Descurainia sophia or Flixweed

Other less known spp. (Neophytes):

  • Sisymbrium erysimoides or French Rocket
  • Sisymbrium irio or London-rocket
  • Sisymbrium loeselii or False London-rocket
  • Sisymbrium polyceratium or Horned Mustard
Group 3: yellow flowers in erect racemes, petals very small compared with other yellow Crucifers.
Turritis glabra (syn. Arabis glabra) or Tower Mustard
Erysimum cheiri or Wallflower
Isatis tinctoria or Woad
Group 4: yellow flowers and fruit not obviously composed of 2 parallel valves.
Rapistrum rugosum or Bastard Cabbage
Continue reading “The Brassica family and their useful plants; Part 2”