Lepidium sativum L. - Cress, garden cress.

Taxonomic position.

Family Brassicaceae, genus Lepidium L.

Morphology and biology.

Biennial plant. Usually bare; stem is solitary, upright, paniculate, with straight branches. Bottom leaves are irregularly pinnatisect or bipinnatisect, ovate. Upper leaves are linear, full, acute. Trusses under flowers are strongly elongated, loose, usually with an absolutely bare rachis. Pedicels are cylindrical, bare, one half to three quarters the length of a silicle. Petals are white or pink, 3 mm long. Silicles are orbicular-oval, emarginate, and winged from the middle or lowermost third to the top, 5-6 mm in length and 4 mm in width. Seeds are ovoid or slightly flattened, almost smooth, of dark ginger color. Blossoms in April/May; bears fruit in June/August. Entomophilies. 2n=16, 24.


The general distribution area includes Northern Africa, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Iran, the Punjab, and the Western Himalayas. Within the former USSR, the species occurs in the southern and middle European part up to the Upper Dnieper and Upper Volga areas, the Crimea and the Caucasus.


Occurs on tilled lands, along field borders and along roadsides. Demonstrates weedy habit.

Utilization and economic value.

For food and as a source of vitamins; fresh shoots are used to prepare salads and dressings. Medicinal: produces diuretic and anti-ascorbic effect. Industrial: seeds contain 58% of oil suitable for oil burners. Nectariferous plant, yielding medium-quality honey.

Reference citations:

Bush N.A., ed. 1939. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 8. Cruciferae. M.-L., 508 pp. (In Russian)
Cherepanov S.K. 1995. Plantae Vasculares Rossicae et Civitatum Collimitanearum (in limicis USSR olim). St. Petersburg: Mir I Semia, 990 pp. (In Russian)
Dorofeev V.I. 1998. Family Cruciferae (Brassicaceae) middle Zone of the European part of the Russian Federation. Turchaninowia, Barnaul, 1(3): 94 pp. (In Russian)
Dorofeev V.I. 2002. Cruciferae (Brassicaceae) of European Russia. Turchaninowia, Barnaul, 5(3): 115 pp. (In Russian)
Grossgeim, A.A. 1950. Flora of the Caucasus. Vol. 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 117 pp. (In Russian)
Harkevitch S.S., ed. 1988. Vascular Plants of the Soviet Far East. Vol. 3. Leningrad: Nauka, 42 pp. (In Russian)
Tsvelev N.N. 2000. Vascular Plants of Russia and the Contiguous States (Determinant)(Leningrad, Pskov and Novgorod district). St. Petersburg: Publishing House of SPHFA, 781 pp. (In Russian)

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