Monday, March 30, 2020

Virginai Peppergrass - Lepidium virginicum

Virginia peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum) is neither a "grass" or a "pepper", but a native member of the mustard family. It occurs statewide in Florida and in every state in the continental US and in most of Canada's southern provinces.  It is a common turf grass "weed" and is present in most upland sites that are routinely disturbed by mowing and discing. 
Virginia peppergrass is an annual and persists by its heavy production of seed. It starts out each season as a dense deep-green cluster of toothed leaves on a stout stem and eventually reaches a mature height of several feet. As a mustard, the seeds are "hot" to the taste and make a good substitute for black pepper as a spice. They are produced throughout much of the frost-free months of the year and the brown disc-shaped pods contain many seeds inside. Flowering occurs in most months. The tiny white blooms form on the tips of the branches and are technically a raceme. 
Though peppergrass is not a wildflower generally propagated purposely, it has value in the landscape as a host plant for several of the whites - particularly the great southern white and the checkered white. I always leave small patches of them in the corners of my landscape for that purpose. If left alone, however, it will take up an ever-increasing area of a landscape.

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