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Sinapis arvensis

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, roadsides, wasteland.

Yellow, 4 petals
Bright yellow, up to 2cm wide. Sepals spreading or down-turned. Pollinated by bees and flies.
Hairless, cylindrical pods, longer than their flat-tipped beak. Smooth, dark red or brown seeds. In fruit from May to August.
An annual erect plant with lower leaves pinnately lobed and upper leaves toothed and unstalked. The leaves reach 7 inches long.
Other Names:
Charlock Mustard, Field Mustard, Wild Mustard.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Sinapis arvensis, also known as charlock or field mustard, is a species of flowering plant in the mustard family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and has been introduced to other parts of the world as a weed. The plant is known for its small, yellow flowers and lobed leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including fields, gardens, and waste areas. Sinapis arvensis is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 1.5 meters in height. It is commonly found in disturbed areas and is considered an invasive weed in some areas. The plant is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments and is also used as a food and condiment.


Charlock (Sinapis arvensis) is a wild mustard plant that is often considered a weed. It is a hardy plant that grows well in a variety of soils and is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Charlock is now widely distributed throughout the world and is especially common in temperate regions.

The plant is a biennial, which means that it completes its life cycle over the course of two years. During its first year, it grows leaves and a taproot. In the second year, it produces a stem that can reach up to 1.5 meters tall, as well as yellow flowers that bloom from June to September.

Charlock is known for its yellow flowers and its ability to grow in poor soil conditions. However, its tendency to spread quickly and aggressively can make it a problem for farmers and gardeners. The plant can outcompete other crops and plants, reducing their growth and yields.

Despite its reputation as a weed, Charlock has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant has been used as a remedy for a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin conditions. Charlock seeds contain a high level of sinapine, a chemical that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Charlock has also been used as a food source. The young leaves and seeds of the plant can be eaten raw or cooked, and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. In the past, Charlock was commonly used as a source of food in Europe during times of famine.

Charlock (Sinapis arvensis) is a hardy plant that is often considered a weed due to its aggressive growing habits. However, it has been used for medicinal purposes and as a food source for centuries, and may offer potential benefits for both human health and the environment.

Charlock is also known to be a host for a number of insects and other wildlife. The yellow flowers of the plant provide a source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, which is important for maintaining healthy ecosystems.

However, Charlock can also have negative effects on the environment. The plant can alter the structure and composition of natural habitats, reducing the diversity of plants and wildlife in an area. It can also increase soil erosion and decrease soil fertility.

Despite these negative effects, Charlock has been used as a cover crop in some areas. The plant is known to improve soil structure, reduce soil erosion, and fix nitrogen in the soil. This can help to improve the overall health of the soil and the long-term productivity of the land.

Charlock is also known to be resistant to a number of herbicides, making it difficult to control in agricultural and horticultural settings. However, there are a number of cultural and mechanical methods that can be used to control the spread of Charlock. These include hand-pulling, tillage, and the use of mulch and compost.

Charlock is a versatile plant with a range of uses, both positive and negative. While it can be a problem for farmers and gardeners, it also provides benefits for the environment and for human health. Whether viewed as a weed or as a valuable resource, Charlock is an important part of the world's natural and cultural heritage.

Another interesting aspect of Charlock is its historical significance. Charlock has been found in archaeological sites, including ancient Egyptian tombs, where it was used as a symbol of resurrection and renewal. In ancient Greek and Roman cultures, Charlock was used in a number of different rituals and ceremonies, including those related to love, fertility, and death.

Charlock has also been used as a source of dye in various cultures. The yellow flowers of the plant contain pigments that can be used to make a yellow dye, which was used for textiles and other purposes. In some cultures, Charlock was also used to make a yellow ink, which was used for writing and drawing.

In terms of its ecological significance, Charlock is an important part of the mustard family, which is one of the largest and most diverse families of flowering plants. The mustard family includes a number of important crops, such as mustard, cabbage, cauliflower, and radish, as well as many other plants that are important for wildlife.

Charlock is also a useful plant for ecological research. Scientists use Charlock as a model system to study a range of biological and ecological processes, including plant evolution, plant-insect interactions, and plant-microbe interactions.

Charlock (Sinapis arvensis) is a fascinating plant that has played a significant role in human history and culture, as well as in the natural world. Whether viewed as a weed or as a valuable resource, Charlock is an important part of our heritage and our world, and deserves further study and appreciation.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that Charlock is a relatively hardy plant that can adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions. This makes it a useful plant for restoration and conservation efforts, as it can help to stabilize degraded or disturbed habitats.

In many areas, Charlock has become naturalized and is now considered a part of the local flora. This has led to the plant being used in landscaping and horticultural applications, where it can be appreciated for its bright yellow flowers and hardy nature.

In addition to its ecological and horticultural uses, Charlock is also an important plant for scientific research. Scientists are using Charlock to study various aspects of plant biology, including genetics, evolution, and ecology. This research is helping to shed light on the complex and fascinating relationships between plants and the environment.

In conclusion, Charlock (Sinapis arvensis) is a valuable and versatile plant that deserves further study and appreciation. Whether viewed as a weed or as a valuable resource, Charlock is an important part of the world's natural and cultural heritage, and plays an important role in many aspects of human life and the natural world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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