Page author: David Giblin
Barbarea vulgaris
yellow rocket, bitter wintercress

Distribution: Occurring chiefly west of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east across most of North America to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: Garden escape, found chiefly in wet places.

Flowers: April-July

Origin: Introduced from Eurasia

Growth Duration: Biennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Mostly glabrous biennial from a taproot and simple crown, the stems stiff, erect, angled, single but freely-branched, 2-6 dm. tall.


Basal leaves long-petiolate, up to 12 cm. long, the blade usually lyrate-pinnatifid to pinnate, the lateral lobes 1-3(-5) on each side, entire to round-toothed, the terminal lobe ovate, entire or irregularly toothed, the petiole often with long, marginal hairs; cauline leaves alternate, glabrous, lobed, becoming simple and sagittate.


Inflorescence of compound or single and terminal racemes, with reduced racemes in the lower leaf axils; pedicles slender, 2-3 mm. long; sepals 4, pale yellowish-green, 2 mm. long; petals 4, yellow, spatulate-oblanceolate, 6-8 mm. long; stamens 6; style distinctly beak-like, 2-3 mm. long; stigma slightly lobed.


Siliques 1-3 cm. long and 1.5-2.5 mm. broad, slightly compressed, 4-angled, strongly 1-nerved full length, erect or strongly ascending, nearly straight.

Accepted Name:
Barbarea vulgaris W.T. Aiton
Publication: Hortus Kew. 4: 109. 1812.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Barbarea arcuata (Opiz ex C. Presl) Rchb.
Barbarea vulgaris W.T. Aiton var. arcuata (Opiz ex C. Presl) Fr.
Barbarea vulgaris W.T. Aiton var. brachycarpa Rouy & Foucaud [Peck]
Erysimum arcuatum Opiz ex C. Presl
Erysimum barbarea L.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Barbarea vulgaris in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Barbarea vulgaris checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Barbarea vulgaris atlas page.

CalPhotos: Barbarea vulgaris photos.

USDA Plants: Barbarea vulgaris information.

16 photographs:
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