Poor Man's Pepper
(Lepidium virginicum)

Poor Man
A Pictorial Portrait

Illustrations and photos by "Wildman," clipart from Clipart.com

This common European weed of sunny, disturbed habitats, poor or sandy soil, and roadsides, grows throughout the US, from spring to fall. Use the spicy leaves, flowers, and seedpods in salads, soups, sauces, casseroles, and for making prepared mustard.

Poor Man's Pepper Painting

Poor Man's Pepper with Seed Pods

The mature plant has lots of branches with alternate (arising singly) leaves, and seed stalks with alternating, flat, circular seed pods.

Poor Man's Pepper Basal Rosette
Poor Man's Pepper Basal Rosette

Strap-shaped leaves spread in a circle along the ground early in the spring. Note the teeth pointing toward the leaf tip (dandelion leaves teeth, usually much larger, point downward).

Persimmon Branch
Persimmon Branch
Poor Man's Pepper with Immature Flower Stalk

The alternate (single) leaves on the flower stalk look the same as the basal leaves, even though the plant is getting taller by mid-spring.

Poor Man's Pepper in Flower
Poor Man's Pepper in Flower

Tiny, 4-petaled, white flowers alternate along the slender flower stalk, with flat, circular seed pods below. The upper leaves are more narrow than the basal leaves.

Poor Man's Pepper Flowers and Seed Pods
Poor Man's Pepper Flowers and Seed Pods

Note the flowers' 4 tiny, white petals, and yellow-green centers, above; developing into flat, green seed pods below. Other similar peppergrasses, also members of the mustard family, are edible as well.

Poor Man's Pepper Seed Stalk
Poor Man's Pepper Seed Stalk

Grind the green pods with vinegar, miso, garlic, turmeric, and salt in a blender to make a superb prepared wild mustard.

Poor Man's Pepper in Seed
Poor Man's Pepper Gone to Seed

The seed pods, which mature from the bottom up, turn white when mature. Each pod releases tiny, orange-brown, oblong seeds.

Poor Man's Pepper Seeds
Poor Man's Seeds and Split Pods

The seeds are much too tiny and insubstantial to use as food.

Prevent Cancer with Poor Man's Pepper
Fox News
January 16, 2012
With Chris Kilham
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