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Hedge Mustard

Sisymbrium officinale

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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, 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:
Annual, Biennial or Perennial
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Fields, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, wasteland, woodland.

Yellow, 4 petals
4 pale yellow petals. Flowers in clusters on stalked erect spikes. 6 stamens, 4 sepals.
The linear fruits are pressed closely to the stem and are up to 2cm long. Many-seeded.
Alternate and stalked leaves. Pinnately lobes, roughly triangular in shape. The bases of the leaves are arrow-shaped.
Other Names:
Bank Cress, Bank Weed, Californian Cress, Common Hedge Mustard, Common Sisymbrium, English Water Cress, Hairypod Hedge Mustard, Hedge Tumble Mustard, Hedgeweed, Indian Hedge Mustard, Oriental Rocket Mustard, Singer's Plant, Tumbling Mustard.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Sisymbrium officinale, also known as hedge mustard or common hedge mustard, is a flowering plant in the mustard family. It is native to Europe and Asia and is commonly found in waste places, roadsides, and cultivated fields. The plant has small yellow flowers and elongated seed pods, and is considered an invasive weed in some areas. The leaves and young shoots of the plant are edible and can be used in salads or cooked as a vegetable. It has also been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic and to treat respiratory conditions.


Hedge Mustard, scientifically known as Sisymbrium officinale, is a herbaceous plant belonging to the Brassicaceae family. It is native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa but can also be found in other parts of the world as an introduced species. This plant is known for its medicinal properties and has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments.

Physical Description

Hedge Mustard is an annual or biennial herb that can grow up to 90cm tall. It has a taproot that can reach up to 50cm deep, and its stems are erect, branched, and covered in fine hairs. The leaves are oblong or lance-shaped, with toothed edges, and grow up to 10cm long. The plant produces small, pale yellow flowers that bloom from April to October. The fruit is a cylindrical pod, about 2cm long, containing numerous small seeds.

Medicinal Properties

Hedge Mustard has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The plant was used to treat a wide range of ailments, including respiratory infections, rheumatism, and digestive disorders. The leaves and seeds of the plant contain various compounds, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and glucosinolates, that are responsible for its medicinal properties.

Respiratory Infections

Hedge Mustard has been traditionally used to treat respiratory infections such as coughs, colds, and bronchitis. It is believed that the plant's expectorant properties help to loosen and expel phlegm from the respiratory tract, making it easier to breathe. A tea made from the leaves of the plant can be used to treat these conditions.

Digestive Disorders

Hedge Mustard has also been used to treat digestive disorders such as indigestion and flatulence. The plant's bitter properties are believed to stimulate the production of digestive juices, helping to improve digestion. A tea made from the seeds of the plant can be used to treat these conditions.


Hedge Mustard has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, and gout. The plant's leaves can be crushed and applied topically to the affected area to reduce inflammation and pain.

Preparation and Dosage

Hedge Mustard can be prepared in various ways, including as a tea, tincture, or poultice. To make a tea, steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried leaves or seeds in a cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. The tea can be consumed up to three times a day. For a tincture, mix 1-2ml of the tincture with water or juice and consume up to three times a day. A poultice can be made by crushing fresh leaves and applying them to the affected area.

Hedge Mustard, with its long history of medicinal use, is a valuable plant with many health benefits. While it is generally considered safe, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before using it as a treatment for any medical condition. Additionally, as with any herbal remedy, it is important to be aware of potential side effects and interactions with other medications. Overall, Hedge Mustard is a fascinating plant with a rich history and a promising future in the field of natural medicine.

More Information about Hedge Mustard

Hedge Mustard has also been used for culinary purposes, particularly in Europe where it is considered a traditional ingredient in salads, soups, and stews. The young leaves of the plant have a slightly bitter taste and can be eaten raw or cooked. The seeds, when ground, can be used as a substitute for mustard and have a pungent taste.

The plant is also known for its ecological importance. It is a pioneer species, meaning that it is one of the first plants to grow in disturbed areas. Its taproot helps to break up compacted soil, making it easier for other plants to grow. The plant also provides food for various insects, including bees and butterflies, and its seeds are an important source of food for birds.

However, Hedge Mustard can also be considered a weed, particularly in agricultural areas. Its ability to grow in disturbed soil and its prolific seed production can result in it becoming invasive and competing with other crops. It is important to manage the plant appropriately to avoid it becoming a problem in these areas.

In addition to its traditional medicinal uses, Hedge Mustard is currently being studied for its potential in modern medicine. Recent research has shown that the plant's compounds may have anti-cancer properties, particularly in preventing the growth and spread of breast cancer cells. The plant has also been found to have antioxidant properties, which may help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Hedge Mustard is also being studied for its potential as a biopesticide. Its compounds have been found to be toxic to certain pests, including aphids, while being relatively safe for beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings. This could provide a natural alternative to synthetic pesticides, which can have negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Facts about Hedge Mustard

Facts about Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale):

  • Hedge Mustard is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Brassicaceae family.
  • It is native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa but can also be found in other parts of the world as an introduced species.
  • The plant can grow up to 90cm tall and has a taproot that can reach up to 50cm deep.
  • Hedge Mustard has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, particularly in treating respiratory infections, digestive disorders, and inflammation.
  • The plant's compounds have been found to have potential anti-cancer and antioxidant properties.
  • Hedge Mustard is also being studied for its potential as a biopesticide.

Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale) is a versatile and valuable plant with numerous medicinal, culinary, and ecological benefits. It has a long history of medicinal use and is currently being studied for its potential in modern medicine and agriculture. With appropriate management, the plant can continue to be a valuable resource for both humans and the environment.


Hedge Mustard filmed at Orford, Suffolk on the 28th June 2022.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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