American winter-cress, Barbarea verna, British wildflowers, Grangemoor Park, Spring colour, wild salad plant
One of my local green spaces, Grangemoor Park, in Cardiff, an old landfill site, has been much churned up over the past year due to the need for repairs to its drainage system. Seeing the amount of damage done to the park, the huge numbers of trees cut down, the wide gravel paths laid down where once were wildflowers and scrub, has been very depressing but I’m hoping Nature will quickly repair the human damage. In the meantime, trying to be positive, I’ve been keeping an eye on the disturbed ground for any botanical surprises. And this is one!
I’m 99% sure that this lovely little treasure is American winter-cress (Barbarea verna), a new plant for me. I’ve had a botanist confirm my identification but with one proviso. She thought ‘Yes I think it looks like it is B. verna as opposed to B. intermedia. If you should happen to see it again when it is in fruit, it should have long (over 4cm) curved fruits, whereas intermedia has shorter (less than 4cm) straight fruits.’ Needless to say, I will be checking the fruits in due course.
In Flora Britannica, Richard Mabey writes that Barbarea verna has proven to be ‘popular and successful as a vegetable. Originally from south-west Europe, it has been introduced as a cultivated vegetable not just to the United States and northern Europe, but to South America and Australasia. It has become widely naturalised in all these places.’ I will be tempted, once it has grown, to harvest some of the leaves, which can be used like ‘rocket’ in a salad, though it is growing in the perfect spot for passing canines to anoint so will have to be washed very thoroughly.
You must be logged in to post a comment.