Broadleaved Pepperweed

Lepidium latifolium

The broadleaf pepperweed is part of the mustard family. 4

Etymology:
Lepidium: generic name that derives from the Greek, and means "small tassel", in reference to the size and shape of the fruits.
latifolium: Latin epithet meaning "with broad leaves".

Botanical Information:
It has a lot of names and also in other languages: in Spanish is called “Rompepiedras”, in French “Grande Passerage”, in german “Pfefferkraut” and in Portuguese “erva-pimenteira”.
This plant normally grows to between 30 centimeters (1 foot) and 1 meter (3 feet) but may grow as tall as 2 meters (6.5 feet). The plants have numerous woody and bluish green stems, alternating waxy leaves and clusters of small, white flowers. It produces small fruits which each contain two reddish seeds. It has an extensive root network, that can reach almost 3 meters (9 feet) in depth and constitute 40 percent of the total biomass of the plant.
The inflorescence is branched, densely flowered and the raceme extends in fruiting stage.
The leaves are alternate, the lowest with stalk and the upper without. Basal leaf edge is elliptic–ovate with densely serrated margins, instead the stem leaf edge is narrow with entire margins.
Broad-leaved pepperweed is at its best during its flowering time at the end of July and beginning of August. The hundreds of small flowers on its many branches turn the whole plant white when they open: it uses its thick, many-branched rootstock to gradually spread across suitable habitats and pushes other plants out of the way.

Ecological Information:
Broad-leaved pepperweed is probably is a native of Europe and Asia, and the plant is able to grow in the Baltic area very close to the coast, where hardly any other plants can flourish, that is because it is a strong-rooted plant. Broad-leaved pepperweed only grows in the gravelly shores and seaweed banks of Finland (the map shows that it was introduced in the United States). It can be found in casual or short-lived stands on the mainland too, close to harbors. Broad-leaved pepperweed is one of those species that is very rare in Finland, but which grows abundantly on the southern side of the Baltic. It is quite surprising that flourishing broad-leaved pepperweed has not expanded to nearby islands. Broad-leaved pepperweed is a highly invasive herbaceous perennial. It can invade a wide range of habitats including riparian areas, wetlands, marshes, and floodplains. It adapts readily to natural and disturbed wetlands. In addition, it has been reported to adversely affect food quality and nesting habitat for native birds.

Ethnobotanical information:
The leaves, sprouts, and fruits of this plant are all edible. In the Himalayas, the spring leaves are prized as a vegetable. The peppery edge or bitterness is removed by first boiling the young sprouts and leaves, and then soaking in water for two days. Cooked like spinach, it makes a nutritious vegetable. It is also an old salad and culinary plant which is said to taste like mustard, onion and salt.
It is also called the wasabi of Scandinavia because it tastes like the Japanese horseradish. Some even think that it goes better with sushi than the Japanese version, because it doesn't overpower the taste buds. You can pick broadleaf pepperweed leaves and shoots from May until August. Pick the flowers throughout summer, but the seeds won't be ready until the end of summer; collect the leaves at the beginning of the season. The young, bright green parts of the plant taste best. Broadleaf pepperweed is crisp and succulent to the bite and has a clean taste of horseradish and mustard, with a slight saltiness. At first it causes a burning sensation in the mouth, but that quickly fades. You can mix broadleaf pepperweed with oil to get an emerald green oil with notes of horseradish that can be used in mayonnaise, as a sauce on its own, or drizzled over creamy soups just before serving. Broadleaf pepperweed is very good paired with all types of shellfish, potatoes, eggs, brined pork, and umami-packed dishes like beef tartare.
There is a recipe called the “broadleaf pepperweed with boiled eggs and scallops”, which is made with: 4 eggs, 4 raw scallops, 2 anchovy filets, 4 leaves broadleaf pepperweed, lemon zest and juice, sea salt and pepper.

Work cited:
“Broad-Leaved Pepperweed.” Luontoportti, www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/broad-leaved-pepperweed.
“Lepidium Latifolium L. (Broadleaved Pepperweed).” plants.sc.egov.usda, Natural Resources Conservation Service, plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=LELA2.
“Lepidium Latifolium.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Mar. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidium_latifolium.
“Perennial (Broad-Leaved) Pepperweed.” Mass Audubon, www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/invasive-plants/pepperweed.
“Broadleaf Pepperweed.” VILD MAD, www.vildmad.dk/en/ingredients/broadleaf-pepperweed.
“VILD MAD.” Broadleaf pepperweed with boiled eggs and scallops, www.vildmad.dk/en/recipes/strandkarse-med-aeg-og-kammusling.

Daniele Bacchin, 18 years old, Menaul School.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Luontoportti, all rights reserved, uploaded by dbacchin, www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/broad-leaved-pepperweed
  2. (c) Wikipedia, all rights reserved, uploaded by dbacchin, https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidium_latifolium
  3. (c) VILD MAD, all rights reserved, uploaded by dbacchin, www.vildmad.dk/en/recipes/strandkarse-med-aeg-og-kammusling
  4. Adapted by dbacchin from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidium_latifolium

More Info

iNat Map

Flower cluster, white
Seed reddish