Botanical Name: Cardamine spp. and Thlaspi arvense
Other Common Names: Bittercress and Pennycress
Brief Description and Notes: Both of these non-native “weeds” pop up in late winter and can really annoy gardeners; their seedheads, when developed later in the season, are often explosive and spread rapidly in the garden. Luckily, they taste good (if you like the spicy mustard-y flavor common to the Brassica family), and when you are weeding them from your garden you can incorporate them into a tasty dish!
Where To Look For It: Almost everywhere, especially wet and disturbed soil
Ecological Value & Roles: Plants in the Brassica family are known for their ability to pull up heavy metals out of soils, so these little weeds could potentially be helping to clean up polluted soils.
Edibility and Other Human Use: Excellent winter foraging food. Greens should be harvested before flowering; use in pesto, salads, soups. At the end of the season, if they haven’t been weeded, dried pennycress stalks can be harvested to make use of the spicy seeds–they can be ground and used in a recipe for honey mustard or something similar.
Wild Wisdom, Awbury Arboretum, 2020