Biennial or short-lived perennial herb 30 cm - 0.8 m tall Stem: upright. Flowers: in branched clusters, yellow, 6 - 8 mm long. Petals four. Stamens six. Fruit: a narrow pod, widely ascending, 4.5 - 7 cm long, on a 3.5 - 7 mm long, 1.2 - 1.8 mm wide stalk, straight or nearly so, with a 1 - 2.5 mm long beak. Basal leaves: to 20 cm long, oblong, with four to ten pairs of lobes. Lobes egg-shaped with slightly wavy margins. Stem leaves: alternate, clasping the stem, smaller than basal leaves, with three to eight pairs of lateral lobes. Lobes oblong to linear with mostly non-toothed margins.
Similar species: The similar Barbarea vulgaris differs by having one to four pairs of lobes on its basal leaves and shorter pods (1.5 - 4 cm).
Flowering: late April to early June
Habitat and ecology: Introduced from Europe. It is now naturalized in the East and in the far western states and British Columbia. In the Chicago Region, Barbarea verna is known from Berrien (occasional) and St. Joseph counties in Indiana. It is typically found in fields and along roadsides and railroads, usually in damp soil.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Etymology: Barbarea refers to St. Barbara, a patron saint of artillerymen and miners. Verna means Spring.
Erect, 3-8 dm, peppery; lower lvs oblong, to 2 dm, with 4-10 pairs of ovate, repand lateral lobes; cauline lvs smaller, with 3-8 pairs of oblong to linear, mostly entire lateral lobes; pet 6-8 mm; mature pedicels 3.5-7 נ1.2-1.8 mm; frs widely ascending, straight or nearly so, 4.5-7 cm, the beak 1-2.5 mm; 2n=16. Native of Eurasia, naturalized in damp soil, fields, roadsides, etc. from Nf. to Wash., s. to Fla. and Calif. Apr.-June. (Campe v.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.