Common names (selected) English: bittercress, bitter wintercress, common wintercress, common yellow rocket, garden yellow rocket, St. Barbara’s cress, rocketcress, upland cress, wintercress, yellow rocket; Chinese: 欧洲山芥 (European mountain mustard); French: barbarée officinale, barbarée vulgaire, cresson de terre, herbe de Sainte Barbe; German: Barbenkraut, Echtes, Winterkresse; Italian: barbarea commune, erba di Santa Barbara; Portuguese: erva-de-Santa-Barbara; Spanish: berro de invierno, hierba de Santa Barbara
Description: winter annual, or biennial, or perennial
Native regions and distribution: Native to temperate and tropical Asia, Europe and North Africa is distributed widely including across North America including in Greenland, South America, Australia.
Urban habitat: Thrives in disturbed soils, minimally maintained landscapes, vacant lots, rubble dumps, highway banks, grasslands, drainage ditches, river banks. It can grow in semi-shaded and fully shaded areas.
Ecological function: Disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground. Food and habitat for a variety of wildlife including bees.
History / human uses: Barbarea vulgaris was named after St. Barbara, as the plant was once known as her herb probably because it emerged around the time of her feast day in December; is naturally resistant to some insect species, while containing chemicals attractive to the cabbage white butterfly. B. vulgaris has been found useful for medicinal purposes: the leaves have been used as a poultice for treating wounds, and a tea made from its leaves stimulates appetite and acts as a diuretic and scurvy preventative. Its young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and its young stems harvested before flowers open can be cooked like broccoli.