It's Mustard Week on iNaturalist! Apr 24 - Apr 30, 2016

If you’ve ever “eaten your greens,” odds are you’ve consumed members of the Brassicaceae, or Mustard family, of plants, which is what we’re looking for during this week of the Critter Calendar!

A huge family comprised of over 3,000 species, mustards contain some of the most economically important plants in the world. Many are eaten as food, such as Brassica oleracea, a species which has been cultivated into forms as diverse as broccoli, collard greens, cabbage and kale; and many are considered weeds in areas where they have been introduced, such as Black mustard.

A clue to help you identify mustard plants comes Cruciferae, an old name for the family. Cruciferae means “cross-bearing,” and refers to the shape of mustard flowers, which have four petals in an x-shaped pattern. Mustard flowers also have six stamens, four of which are long and arranged in a cross-like pattern, and four sepals. They are usually yellow, lavender or white in color.

Mustards also:

  • Are herbaceous (lacking woody stems), except for several genera in the Mediterranean like Zilla spinosa
  • Have leaves which are alternately- arranged (for the most part), meaning the leaves are not across from each other on the stem. Sometimes the leaves form rosettes around the base of the plants, which are circular and the leaves are all at a similar height.
  • Form fruits called siliquae. These are long and resemble legumes. They separate into two or four segments when mature. Fruits less than three times long as they are wide are referred to as silicles.
  • Often grown in disturbed areas
  • Are the host plant for “cabbageworm” butterfly larvae, such as the Cabbage White butterfly.

Some mustard plants you might see are rockcress, dyer’s woad, peppergrass, and wild radish, among the many many species of mustard plants.

We’ll be keeping track of your sightings here. Happy mustard hunting!

Posted by loarie loarie, April 28, 2016 20:54


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