Table of Contents
- Edible Uses of Winter Cress
- Medicinal Uses of Winter Cress
- Alternative Uses of Yellow Rocket
- Growing Barbarea Vulgaris
Wintercress is a nonnative garden vegetable that has escaped into the wild in Ontario. The subtitle was a toss up between broccoli and arugula of edible wild plants. Which would you have picked?
Winter cress (barbarea vulgaris) is common here along moist roadsides and in fields among flowers and grasses. Its bright yellow flower clusters stand out:
Edible Uses of Winter Cress
The arugula like young leaves can be eaten raw or as a potherb. They’re best finely chopped. For older leaves, boiling in a couple changes of water can take away some of the bitterness. With its strong taste you may want to combine it with milder greens. Snow cover permitting and in mild areas, these leaves can be eaten early winter and spring lending the common names winter or spring cress. It’s one of the first early spring greens here.
The budding flowerheads can be boiled in a couple changes of water and served like its relation broccoli. It was a toss up between subtitling this feature the broccoli or the arugula of wild plants. The yellow flowers are also edible.
Medicinal Uses of Winter Cress
Winter Cress is primarily said to support these body systems:
Medicinal tags include Astringent. See Medicinal tag key for more information.
Common usage includes astringent uses like a wound poultice. It’s been called “wound rocket”.
Alternative Uses of Yellow Rocket
It can be used as a “trap crop” for diamondback moth, whose caterpillar damages cruciferous vegetable crops.
Growing Barbarea Vulgaris
Sadly, it’s an aggressive introduced species. It could be grown as a vegetable or strategically in the vegetable garden (see Alternate Uses). Mustard and cabbage white butterflies and some bugs will eat it.
There’s a native plant that winter cress is sometimes mistaken for.. Golden Alexanders (zizea aurea) are native and also yellow flowered and showy, and a delight to our native bees, butterflies and birds.
And the Usual Cautions:
1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.
2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.
3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored. Herbalists do not have an official certification yet, but that may be in the works.
4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.
5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.
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