Mustard Madness EcoQuest

Hello all!

Most of us are familiar with the sight and taste of cabbage, broccoli, kale, radishes, turnips, and mustards on our dinner plates, but did you know that these vegetables–collectively known as cruciferous vegetables–are all related? These plants are members of the Brassicaceae family, which is comprised of approximately 4,060 different species. Many of them have been cultivated for agricultural purposes and are staple foods in diets across the world. All members of the Brassicaceae family are characterized by cruciform (“cross shaped”) flowers that are usually yellow or white. Hence the name cruciferous!

This EcoQuest focuses on members of the mustard family that grow in our own backyards, some of which are also edible! There are six native mustard species that have been documented via preserved specimen collections in Sarasota and Manatee counties:

  • Coastal searocket (Cakile lanceolata)
  • Pennsylvania bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica)
  • Western tansymustard (Descurainia pinnata)
  • Virginia pepperweed (Lepidium virginicum)
  • Florida watercress (Nasturtium floridanum)
  • Southern marsh yellowcress (Rorippa teres)

These species inhabit a variety of habitats. Coastal searocket can be found in coastal dunes while Florida watercress grows in springs and swamps. Florida watercress is our only endemic mustard species, meaning that it is both native and only found in Florida!

Our native mustards inhabit a variety of habitats. Coastal searocket, for example, grows in coastal dune ecosystems, while Florida watercress grows in spring and swamp ecosystems. Florida watercress is also our only endemic mustard species, meaning that it is not only native to Florida but is only found in Florida.
The Coastal Searocket is a beautiful albeit uncommon native to many of our barrier islands in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

One of the most common Florida native Brassicaceae species, Virginia pepperweed, is likely growing in your neighborhood or a disturbed site nearby. Not only is Lepidium virginicum edible to humans, it is also a host plant for both the checkered white butterfly (Pontia protodice) and the great southern white butterfly (Ascia monuste).

There are five non-native species that have been documented in the two counties as well:

  • India mustard (Brassica juncea)
  • Lesser swinecress (Lepidium didymum)
  • European watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
  • Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum)
  • Charlock mustard (Sinapsis arvensis)

All non-native species that have been introduced to Florida ecosystems are edible! Most have been grown as agricultural crops, so it is likely that they originally spread by escaping from cultivation. European watercress is specifically grown as a crop in Florida to supplement the supply for other states who cannot grow it during the winter months.

We have one more Bioblitz coming up for this EcoQuest and we hope you will join us! You can register at or sending an RSVP to

Upcoming Bioblitzes:
June 15th - 9am - 12pm Anna Maria Island 316 N Bay Blvd, Anna Maria, FL 34216

Have your weeds and eat them too!

Publicado el mayo 26, 2022 09:35 TARDE por kaylynnlow kaylynnlow


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