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Tall Rocket

Sisymbrium altissimum

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, 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, 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, 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:
Annual or Biennial
Maximum Size:
2 metres tall
Fields, roadsides, seaside, wasteland.

Yellow, 4 petals
The pale yellow flowers are approximately 1cm in diameter. The clusters of flowers appear at the ends of the branches. 4 narrow curved sepals. 6 greenish stamens, 4 long and 2 short. Insect-pollinated.
Long seedpods, not appressed to the main stems. Between 5 and 10cm in length. The many-seeded fruit ripen from July to September.
A slender looking, annual flower with pinnate leaves and very narrow leaf lobes, in particular the topmost leaf lobes. The leaves are arranged alternately along the stems. They have toothed margins, are about 8 inches long and 3 inches wide. The edges of the leaves are hairy. The lower leaves are short-stalked.
Other Names:
Jim Hill Mustard, Tall Hedge Mustard, Tall Sisymbrium, Tall Tumble Mustard, Tumble Mustard, Tumbleweed Mustard.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Sisymbrium altissimum, also known as tall hedge mustard, is a species of flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and typically grows in a variety of habitats, including roadsides, fields, and waste places. The plant is an annual herb that can grow up to 2m tall and has large, lobed leaves and yellow flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The plant is considered a weed in many parts of the world due to its invasive nature and its ability to outcompete native plants. It can be controlled by cultural practices such as hand weeding and mowing, but the use of herbicides can also be effective. It is often used as a cover crop and forage crop, and it is also used for phytoremediation of soil contaminated with heavy metals.


Tall Rocket, also known as Sisymbrium altissimum, is a tall, hardy plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia but has now been introduced to many parts of the world, including North America. The plant is often considered a weed, but it has many beneficial qualities, including its ability to improve soil quality and its potential as a source of food and medicine.


Tall Rocket is an annual or biennial plant that can grow up to six feet tall. It has a single stem with many branches and is covered with fine, white hairs. The leaves are alternate, pinnately lobed, and toothed, and they have a slightly rough texture. The flowers are small and white and grow in elongated clusters.

Habitat and Distribution

Tall Rocket is adaptable and can grow in many different habitats, including fields, pastures, roadsides, and disturbed areas. It prefers well-drained soil and can tolerate drought and high temperatures. The plant is widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, and it has also been introduced to Australia, South America, and Africa.

Ecological Benefits

Tall Rocket is known for its ability to improve soil quality. The plant has a deep taproot that can penetrate compacted soil, and it accumulates nutrients from the soil, which are then released when the plant dies and decomposes. This process enriches the soil and makes it more fertile.

Tall Rocket also provides habitat and food for wildlife. The flowers are visited by many pollinators, including bees and butterflies, and the seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.

Potential Uses

Tall Rocket has many potential uses, including as a source of food and medicine. The young leaves and shoots of the plant are edible and can be used in salads, soups, and other dishes. The seeds are high in oil and protein and can be used to make a nutritious oil or flour.

Tall Rocket has also been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive problems, and skin conditions. The plant contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and glucosinolates, which may have medicinal properties.

Tall Rocket, or Sisymbrium altissimum, is a hardy plant with many beneficial qualities. It improves soil quality, provides habitat and food for wildlife, and has potential as a source of food and medicine. While the plant is often considered a weed, it is worth considering its potential benefits and uses. As with any plant, it is important to be aware of its potential invasiveness and to manage it appropriately.

More Information

Tall Rocket has a long history of use by humans, and it has been cultivated and used for centuries in various parts of the world. The plant has been used as a food source by Indigenous peoples in North America, and it was also used in traditional Chinese medicine.

In addition to its potential as a food and medicine, Tall Rocket has other uses as well. The oil extracted from the seeds can be used for biodiesel, and the plant has been used for erosion control and as a cover crop to prevent soil erosion and improve soil health.

However, Tall Rocket can also be invasive and compete with native plants, particularly in disturbed areas or areas with poor soil. As with any plant, it is important to be aware of its potential invasiveness and to manage it appropriately.

One interesting aspect of Tall Rocket is its ability to accumulate heavy metals from the soil. This property makes the plant useful for phytoremediation, which is the process of using plants to remove contaminants from soil or water. Tall Rocket has been shown to be effective at removing heavy metals such as cadmium and lead from contaminated soil, making it a potential tool for environmental cleanup.

Another interesting aspect of Tall Rocket is its role as a pioneer plant. Pioneer plants are the first plants to grow in an area after a disturbance such as a fire, flood, or landslide. These plants play an important role in the process of ecological succession, which is the gradual process by which an ecosystem recovers and becomes more complex after a disturbance. Tall Rocket is a common pioneer plant, and it is often one of the first plants to colonize disturbed areas.

Finally, Tall Rocket has cultural and historical significance as well. In Europe, the plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and it has also been used in various rituals and ceremonies. In North America, Indigenous peoples have used the plant as a food source and for medicinal purposes, and it is still used in some traditional practices today.

In conclusion, Tall Rocket is a fascinating and useful plant with many potential benefits and uses. Its ability to improve soil quality, provide habitat and food for wildlife, and potentially be used for food, medicine, and environmental remediation make it a valuable plant to consider. As with any plant, it is important to be aware of its potential invasiveness and to manage it appropriately, but with proper management, Tall Rocket can provide a range of benefits and opportunities for sustainable use.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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