Barbarea vulgaris (Garden Yellow Rocket)
|Also known as:||Winter Cress, Yellow-rocket|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist fields, edges of woods, along roads, along shores|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||1 to 3 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in rounded clusters 1 to 1½ inches across at the top of branching stems in the upper plant. Individual flowers are about 1/3 inch across, with 4 yellow petals, 6 yellow-tipped stamens, a slender style, and 4 yellow-green sepals. Clusters elongate as the plant matures, with flowers blooming at the tip and fruit forming along the stem below.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves become progressively smaller as they ascend the stem. Near the base of the plant they are deeply lobed with a large rounded lobe at the tip and 1 to 4 pairs of small rounded lobes on the stalk. Basal leaves are up to 6 inches long and 2½ inches wide; the edges are often somewhat wavy. Stem leaves typically have a pair of lobes (auricles) at the base of the stalk that clasp the stem.
At the top of the plant leaves are rather smaller and somewhat variable, may be unlobed, wedge shaped to oval or shallowly lobed with little or no stalk. The upper surface of all leaves is dark green and glossy. Attachment is alternate. Stems are branched, hairless, ridged or angled, purplish or green with purple streaks or stripes. Multiple stems arise from the base, forming a clump.
Garden Yellow Rocket is a pest plant from Eurasia that doesn't typically invade high quality habitat, but thrives in disturbed soil such as along roadsides, fields and construction sites. It can form large colonies, but scattered plants are encountered as well. It is a common sight along roadsides in spring, like the massive infestation found along a county road in Washington County (see image below). It is very similar in nearly all respects to the native American Yellow Rocket (Barbarea orthoceras); while there are small differences in flower size, leaf shape and fruit arrangement, it is most easily distinguished by at least some stem leaves having a fringe of hairs around the auricles, where Garden Yellow Rocket auricles are all hairless.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey and Washington counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?