Friday, October 02, 2009


The last week in July, Oyster Bay, near sunset. The sun, just above the trees in the west, skimmed the bog, highlighting everything above knee height. We were hurrying to get "home" to the motel to watch the sunset from our cliff-top garden, and barely paused to snap this beauty.

Pepperweed, peppergrass, possibly Lepidium densiflorum

Seed pods.

I wasn't paying enough attention. When the time came to put a name to the photo, I was stuck. No flowers, no leaves; just stalks and round, flat seed pods. What plant book classifies plants by the shape of the siliques?

I leafed through my "Plants of Coastal BC", muttering. "Too many possiblilities."

Laurie was (not) being helpful: "Just tear out a bunch of pages," he said.

Never mind; I found it, in the Brassicas. Pepperweed. Lepidium densiflorum or virginicum, I'm not sure which. I wasn't sure, even then, because most of the photos were of young plants, flowers, or fresh, green seed spikes. Ours were yellow and orange. I finally found one, taken in Texas, the same colour. Pepperweed it is.

Looking closely at our photos, I realize that there were probably a few flowers, which I would have discovered if I'd not been in such a rush. They are clustered at the tip of the stalks, and very tiny; the full-blown flower is barely 1 millimetre long. (The seed pods are around 4 mm.)

I should have looked for leaves; that would have helped in the identification.

And it's edible. If I had known (or if I had brought home a sample), I would have tasted it. It is supposed to be peppery; the seeds and leaves add zip to a salad or a cooked dish.

If, if, if ... Lesson learned; pay attention. Always. Smell the roses. And taste the pepperweed.

1 comment:

  1. One can never pay too much attention! I always come home and wish I had taken more pictures, looked at more/different details ... so, I haul D and Mingus out for a second and sometimes third look!


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