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Greater Swinecress

Coronopus squamatus

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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, Charlock, 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, 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:
1 metre long
Fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland.

White, 4 petals
The flowers are in tightly packed bunches at the bases of the leaves. Pollinated by flies. 6 stamens.
Knotted, flattened, short-beaked seedpods (kidney-shaped). They are broader than long. Very short-stalked. Lesser Swinecress (Lepidium didymus) is very similar to this species but that has longer stalks. Greater Swinecress is very short-stalked. In fruit from August to October.
Dark green pinnately lobed leaves. A prostrate annual or (rarely) biennial. Greater Swinecress is most frequently found in the gateways of fields where the ground is bare and trampled.
Greater Swinecress is not aromatic.
Other Names:
Annual Wartcress, Blackpod, Creeping Wartcress, Crowfoot, Eastern Dodder-laurel, Scaleseed, Swine-cress, Warty Swinecress.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Coronopus squamatus, commonly known as eastern dodder-laurel or scaleseed, is a species of flowering plant in the Brassicaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia and can be found in a variety of habitats such as meadows, roadsides, and coastal dunes. The plant is a small, creeping, annual herb that can grow up to 20cm in height. It has a few small, scale-like leaves, white or pink flowers and it forms small capsules with seeds. It is not common used in horticulture, but it is sometimes used as a ground cover or in rock gardens.


Greater Swinecress, also known as Coronopus squamatus, is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the mustard family, Brassicaceae. It is a cool-season annual or biennial plant that is commonly found in open, disturbed areas such as pastures, fields, and along roadsides. The plant is native to Europe, but it has been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America, where it is considered an invasive species in some areas.

Greater Swinecress grows up to 1 meter tall and has long, narrow, deeply lobed leaves. The leaves have a distinctive pungent odor and are arranged in a basal rosette. The plant produces small, white or greenish-white flowers in clusters at the tips of the stems. The flowers have four petals and six stamens and are self-fertile, meaning that they can produce seeds without the need for pollination.

The plant is commonly used as a forage crop for livestock, as it is highly nutritious and palatable. It is also used as a cover crop to prevent soil erosion and as a green manure crop to improve soil fertility. In addition, the plant has medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

The leaves of Greater Swinecress are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, iron, and calcium. The plant also contains flavonoids and other compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, it has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including respiratory infections, digestive problems, and skin conditions.

Despite its many benefits, Greater Swinecress can become a problem in some areas, particularly in moist or poorly drained soils. The plant can form dense stands that outcompete native vegetation, reducing biodiversity and altering the ecology of the area. It is also capable of hybridizing with other members of the Brassicaceae family, potentially leading to the spread of invasive species.

Greater Swinecress is a versatile and valuable plant that has many uses in agriculture, medicine, and ecology. While it can become a problem in some areas, it remains an important and valuable resource that deserves careful management and conservation.

Greater Swinecress is a resilient plant that can grow in a variety of conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil but can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including clay and sandy soils. It is also tolerant of drought, making it a useful plant in arid regions.

The plant is easy to propagate from seed and can be sown directly in the ground or started indoors and transplanted. It grows quickly and can be harvested for forage or as a green manure crop within six to eight weeks of planting.

In traditional medicine, Greater Swinecress has been used to treat a variety of respiratory conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, and coughs. It has also been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and to aid digestion and relieve constipation.

The plant contains glucosinolates, compounds that have been found to have anticancer properties in some studies. However, the exact mechanisms by which these compounds work are not fully understood, and more research is needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of Greater Swinecress as a cancer treatment.

In some areas, Greater Swinecress is considered an invasive species that can outcompete native plants and reduce biodiversity. It is important to carefully manage and control the spread of the plant to prevent it from becoming a problem.

Overall, Greater Swinecress is a fascinating and useful plant that has many benefits in agriculture, medicine, and ecology. As with any plant, it is important to understand its potential risks and benefits and to use it responsibly and sustainably.

In addition to its agricultural and medicinal uses, Greater Swinecress also has cultural significance in some regions. In parts of Europe, the plant has been used as a traditional food, particularly in Mediterranean cuisine. The young leaves and stems can be used in salads or cooked like spinach, while the seeds can be used as a condiment or in baking.

The plant has also been used in folklore and superstitions in some cultures. In ancient Rome, it was believed to have protective powers and was used to ward off evil spirits. In some parts of Europe, it was believed that carrying the plant in a pocket or wearing it as an amulet could protect against witchcraft and the evil eye.

Greater Swinecress is a fascinating and versatile plant that has many uses and benefits. From its nutritional value as a forage crop to its medicinal properties and cultural significance, the plant has played an important role in human history and continues to be a valuable resource today. As with any plant, it is important to balance its potential benefits with the need to manage and control its spread to prevent ecological and agricultural problems.

Greater Swinecress is also known by several other common names, including Swinecress, Annual Wartcress, and Blackpod. The name "Swinecress" is thought to have originated from the plant's use as a food for pigs in some regions. The name "Wartcress" refers to the plant's traditional use as a treatment for warts, which is attributed to its high content of acetic acid.

The plant has also been studied for its potential use as a biofuel crop. It has been found to have a high oil content in its seeds, which could be extracted and used to produce biodiesel. However, more research is needed to determine the feasibility and sustainability of using Greater Swinecress as a biofuel crop.

In some areas, Greater Swinecress is considered a noxious weed and is subject to control measures. It is important to be aware of local regulations regarding the planting and management of the plant to prevent its spread and minimize its impact on native ecosystems.

Overall, Greater Swinecress is a fascinating and useful plant that has played an important role in human history and continues to be a valuable resource today. Its many benefits, including its use as a forage crop, medicine, and traditional food, make it a plant of significant interest to researchers and farmers alike. With careful management and conservation, Greater Swinecress has the potential to continue providing benefits for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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