Barbarea vulgaris (wintercress, St. Barbara’s cress, rocketcress, bittercress)

winter annual, or biennial, or perennial

place of origin: Eurasia

urban habitat: thrives in disturbed soils, common in minimally maintained landscapes, vacant lots, rubble dumps, highway banks, unmowed grasslands.

ecological function:
disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground.

history: Barbarea vulgaris was named after St. Barbara, as the plant was once known as her herb probably because it emerged around the time of her feast day in December. The plant is naturally resistant to some insect species, while containing chemicals attractive to the cabbage white butterfly. Yellow Rocket is currently found in Northeast, Midwest, in many Western states, and across most of Canada. Yellow Rocket has been found useful for medicinal purposes: the leaves have been used as a poultice for treating wounds, and a tea made from its leaves stimulates appetite and acts as a diuretic and scurvy preventative. Its young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and its young stems harvested before flowers open can be cooked like broccoli.