Australia > All Weeds > Hoary Cress

Hoary Cress

Cardaria draba

Origin: Native of eastern Mediterranean to central and southern Asia


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Image by Manuel M.Ramos

Alternative Name(s): White Weed

Family: Brassicaceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Habitat: A weed of arable fields

Edibility Rating: 2 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Erect perennial herb to 90 cm high. Stems with longitudinal ribs. Leaves grey-green; basalones ovate to elliptic to 15 cm long, margins entire or toothed, on a stalk; stem leaves ovate to oblong to8 cm long, margins entire to toothed, without a stalk and base stem-clasping. Mature fruit with a network of surface veins, on a stalk 4–15 mm long. Seeds ovoid, to 2.5 mm long, not winged, dark red-brown.
Flowers: In terminal, often umbrella-like, clusters. Flowers fragrant with sepals to 2.5 mm long, white petals to 4.5 mm long and six stamens. Flowers most of year but mainly spring and summer. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects. The plant is self-fertile.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by spreading rhizomatous root system; dense covering of short hairs; heart-shaped fruit with the broadest part towards the base, to 4 (rarely to 5) mm long and generally wider with remains of style at top, almost hairless; fruit not opening at maturity but separating into two 1-seeded sections.

Dispersal: Spreads by buds on spreading roots, movement of root sections and by seed. Regrows from perennial rootstock. Plants may produce up to5000 seeds with high viability although most spread is by movement of pieces of root.

Edible Uses

Young leaves and shoots - raw in salads or cooked as a potherb. A report says that the young leaves contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide, though does not give any more details. In small quantities this substance is fairly harmless, and has even been recommended as having health benefits, but caution is suggested if you eat these leaves. The pungent leaves are used as a seasoning. The seed is used as a condiment, it is a pepper substitute.

Medicinal Uses

Antiscorbutic; Carminative. The seeds have been used as a cure for flatulence and fish poison. It is assumed that this report is referring to food poisoning caused by eating suspect fish.

Other Uses

None known


Flowers deatil by aspidoscelis

Flowering plant. Image by er.we


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