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African mustard, Asian mustard, mustard, sahara mustard

cabbage, cole, mustard, turnip

Habit Annuals; densely hirsute proximally, glabrescent distally. Annuals, biennials, or, rarely, perennials; not scapose; glabrous, glabrescent, or pubescent.

usually branched basally, (widely) branched distally, (1–)3–7(–10) dm.

erect, unbranched or branched distally.


basal and cauline; petiolate or sessile;

basal (persistent in B. tournefortii), rosulate or not, petiolate, blade margins entire, dentate, or lyrate-pinnatifid;

cauline petiolate or sessile, blade (base sometimes auriculate or amplexicaul), margins entire, dentate, lobed, or sinuate-serrate.

Basal leaves

(rosettes persistent);

petiole (broad) 2–10 cm;

blade lyrate to pinnatisect, 2–30 cm × 10–50(–100) mm, (margins serrate-dentate), 4–10 lobes each side.

Cauline leaves


blade (reduced in size distally, distalmost bractlike), base tapered, not auriculate or amplexicaul.


not paniculately branched.

(corymbose), considerably elongated in fruit.


sepals 5–4.5 × 1–1.5 mm;

petals pale yellow, fading or, sometimes, white, oblanceolate, 4–7 × 1.5–2(–2.5) mm, claw 1–3 mm, apex rounded;

filaments 2.5–4 mm;

anthers 1–1.3 mm;

gynophore to 1 mm.

sepals usually erect or ascending, rarely spreading, oblong [ovate], lateral pair usually saccate basally;

petals yellow to orange-yellow [rarely white], obovate, ovate, elliptic, or oblanceolate, claw often differentiated from blade, (sometimes attenuate basally, apex rounded or emarginate);

stamens tetradynamous;

filaments slender;

anthers oblong or ovate, (apex obtuse);

nectar glands confluent or not, median glands present.

Fruiting pedicels

widely spreading, 8–15 mm.

erect, spreading, ascending or divaricately-ascending, often slender.


(shortly stipitate); widely spreading to ascending (not appressed to rachis), torulose, cylindric, 3–7 cm × 2–4(–5) mm;

valvular segment with 6–12(–15) seeds per locule, 2.2–5 cm, terminal segment 1(–3)-seeded, (cylindric, stout), 10–20 mm.

siliques, dehiscent, sessile or stipitate, segments 2, linear, torulose or smooth, terete, 4-angled, or latiseptate; (terminal segment seedless or 1–3-seeded, usually filiform or conic, rarely cylindrical);

valves each prominently 1-veined, glabrous;

replum rounded;

septum complete;

ovules [4–]10–50 per ovary;

stigma entire or 2-lobed.


light reddish brown or black, 1–1.2 mm diam.;

seed coat prominently reticulate, mucilaginous when wetted.

uniseriate, plump, not winged, globose;

seed coat (reticulate or reticulate-alveolate), mucilaginous or not when wetted;

cotyledons conduplicate.


= 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.


= 20.

Brassica tournefortii


Phenology Flowering Feb–Apr.
Habitat Roadsides, waste places, old fields, washes, open desert areas intermixed with desert shrubs
Elevation 0-800 m (0-2600 ft)
from FNA
AZ; CA; NV; TX; UT; Europe; Asia; Africa [Introduced in North America; introduced also in nw Mexico, Australia]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from USDA
sw Europe; sw Asia; e Africa; nw Africa [Introduced in North America; introduced also in Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America, Atlantic Islands, Pacific Islands (New Zealand), Australia]
[BONAP county map]

Brassica tournefortii was first reported from California (Imperial, Riverside, and western San Bernardino counties) by W. L. Jepson ([1923–1925]), with the first collections appearing from southern California in 1941 (R. C. Rollins and I. A. Al-Shehbaz 1986), Arizona in 1959 (T. H. Kearney and R. H. Peebles 1960), Nevada in 1977, and Texas in 1978 (D. E. Lemke and R. D. Worthington 1991).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Species 35 (8 in the flora).

Crops of Brassica are the most important economic plants of the family. Probably, the earliest known utilization of mustards dates from Sanskrit records in India to 3000 b.c., but there is archaeological evidence suggesting that cultivation of cabbage in coastal northern Europe was occurring nearly 8000 years ago. Brassica crops include oilseeds, food crops (e.g., B. juncea, Asian vegetables; B. oleracea, cole crops; B. rapa, Chinese cabbages), fodder for animals, and condiments (B. juncea or B. nigra). The latter two species have also been used for medicinal purposes (I. A. Al-Shehbaz 1985). In addition to being noxious weeds, some species of Brassica are harmful or poisonous to humans and livestock (Al-Shehbaz).

Historically, native peoples of North America have used a number of “wild” Brassica species for both food and medicinal purposes (T. Arnason et al. 1981; H. A. Jacobson et al. 1988): Brassica species—young shoots cooked as greens by Iroquois and Malecite Indian tribes; B. nigra—seeds ground and used as snuff to cure head colds by the Meskwaki, and leaves used to relieve toothaches and headaches by the Mohegans; B. napus—bark used to treat colds, cough, grippe, and smallpox by the Micmac, and used for chilblains by the Rappahannock; B. oleracea—used for headaches by the Rappahannock; and B. rapa—used as medicine by the Bois Fort Chippewa.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Cauline leaves sessile, blade bases auriculate and/or amplexicaul
→ 2
1. Cauline leaves petiolate or sessile, blade bases tapered, not auriculate or amplexicaul
→ 4
2. Biennials or perennials; petals (15-)18-25(-30) mm; terminal segments of fruits (3-)4-11 mm.
B. oleracea
2. Annuals or biennials; petals 6-16 mm; terminal segments of fruits (5-)8-22 mm
→ 3
3. Flowers usually not overtopping buds, rarely at same level, when open; petals pale yellow, 10-16 mm; terminal segments of fruits (5-)9-16 mm.
B. napus
3. Flowers overtopping or equaling buds when open; petals deep yellow, 6-11(-13) mm; terminal segments of fruits 8-22 mm.
B. rapa
4. Fruits and pedicels erect, ± appressed to rachises; fruits 10-25(-27) mm, not torulose; fruiting pedicels (2-)3-5(-6) mm.
B. nigra
4. Fruits and pedicels spreading to ascending, not appressed to rachises; fruits often 2 cm+, torulose; fruiting pedicels (6-)8-20 mm
→ 5
5. Fruits stipitate, gynophores 1.5-4(-5) mm, terminal segments 0.5-2.5(-3) mm; basal leaf blade margins entire or dentate.
B. elongata
5. Fruits sessile or stipitate, gynophores to 1 mm, terminal segments (4-)5-20 mm; basal leaf blade margins lyrate to pinnatisect, or pinnatifid to pinnately lobed
→ 6
6. Basal leaves persistent, blades with 4-10 lobes each side, surfaces hirsute; petals 4-7 × 1.5-2(-2.5) mm.
B. tournefortii
6. Basal leaves deciduous, blades with 1-3 (or 4) lobes each side, surfaces glabrous or nearly so; petals (7-)9-13 × 3-7.5 mm
→ 7
7. Fruits stipitate (gynophore 1-1.5 mm), 1.5-3 cm × 1.5-2 mm, terminal segment 3-6 mm.
B. fruticulosa
7. Fruits sessile, (2-)3-5(-6) cm × 2-5 mm, terminal segment (4-)5-10 (-15) mm.
B. juncea
Source FNA vol. 7, p. 424. FNA vol. 7, p. 419. Author: Suzanne I. Warwick.
Parent taxa Brassicaceae > tribe Brassiceae > Brassica Brassicaceae > tribe Brassiceae
Sibling taxa
B. elongata, B. fruticulosa, B. juncea, B. napus, B. nigra, B. oleracea, B. rapa
Subordinate taxa
B. elongata, B. fruticulosa, B. juncea, B. napus, B. nigra, B. oleracea, B. rapa, B. tournefortii
Name authority Gouan: Ill. Observ. Bot., 44, plate 20A. (1773) Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 666. (1753): Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 299. (1754)
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