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Lesser Swinecress

Lepidium didymus

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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, 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:
20 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, lawns, meadows, parks, roadsides, seaside, wasteland.

White, 4 petals
Minute flowers, up to 1mm across, white and forming compact clusters at leaf bases.
The flowers develop into tiny, globular fruits with orangish-red seeds.
Pinnate, feathery-looking. Starts off growing in a basal rosette but eventually just becomes a tangled mess of stems and leaves.
Pungent leaves.
Other Names:
Bitter Cress, Broad-leaved Pepperweed, Lesser Wart-cress, Swine Wartcress, Swine Watercress, Twin Cress, Twin-seed Pepperweed, Wart Cress.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Lepidium didymum, commonly known as twin-seed pepperweed or broad-leaved pepperweed, is a species of flowering plant in the Brassicaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and can be found in a variety of habitats such as meadows, roadsides, and cultivated fields. The plant is an annual herb that can grow up to 20cm in height and has a single stem. It has a few leaves and small, white or pink flowers, and it forms small capsules with seeds. L. didymum is considered a weed in many countries, and it can be invasive in some regions. It can be controlled by hand-pulling, mowing or using herbicides.


Lesser Swinecress (Lepidium didymum) is a small, annual plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which includes other well-known plants such as broccoli and mustard. The plant is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but has since been introduced to North America, South America, Australia, and other parts of the world. Lesser Swinecress is a common weed in agricultural fields, pastures, and disturbed areas, and can often be found growing in compacted soils, waste areas, and along roadsides.

The plant has a thin stem that grows up to 20 cm tall and is often branched at the base. The leaves of Lesser Swinecress are divided into small leaflets that are oblong or lanceolate in shape, and have a slightly hairy texture. The flowers of the plant are small and white, and are arranged in dense clusters at the end of the stem. The plant blooms from late spring to early fall, producing numerous seeds that are dispersed by wind and other means.

Despite its weedy nature, Lesser Swinecress has a few interesting uses. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat various ailments, including respiratory infections, rheumatism, and digestive issues. The plant is rich in vitamins A and C, and also contains minerals such as calcium, iron, and potassium. In addition, Lesser Swinecress has been used as a food source for livestock and as a green manure crop due to its ability to fix nitrogen.

However, the plant can also be problematic in certain situations. Lesser Swinecress can compete with crops for nutrients, water, and sunlight, leading to reduced yields. The plant can also be a nuisance in pastures, as it can reduce the palatability of forage and may even be toxic to some animals in large quantities. In addition, Lesser Swinecress is considered an invasive species in some parts of the world, and can quickly colonize disturbed areas and outcompete native plants.

Lesser Swinecress is a small but interesting plant that can be both beneficial and problematic depending on the situation. While it has some traditional medicinal uses and can be a valuable source of nutrients, it can also compete with crops, reduce the quality of pastures, and outcompete native species. As with any plant, it is important to be aware of its potential benefits and drawbacks when considering its role in a given ecosystem.

One interesting aspect of Lesser Swinecress is its adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions. The plant can grow in a variety of soil types, from sandy to clayey, and can tolerate both wet and dry conditions. It is also able to grow in areas with low fertility and high salinity, making it a resilient species that can survive in harsh environments.

In addition to its ecological adaptability, Lesser Swinecress has also been the subject of scientific research in recent years. Some studies have focused on the plant's potential as a bioindicator of heavy metal pollution, as it has been found to accumulate metals such as lead, cadmium, and zinc in its tissues. Other research has investigated the plant's anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties, as some compounds found in Lesser Swinecress have been shown to have potential therapeutic applications.

As with many other plant species, the role of Lesser Swinecress in ecosystems is complex and multifaceted. While it can be a nuisance in agricultural settings and invasive in some regions, it also provides important ecological services, such as nutrient cycling and habitat provision for wildlife. As our understanding of the plant and its interactions with other species grows, we may be able to better manage its presence in different environments and potentially even utilize its unique properties for various applications.

Lesser Swinecress is a plant that is often overlooked due to its small size and weedy nature, but it can have important ecological and economic implications. In agricultural settings, for example, the plant can provide valuable nitrogen fixation and soil stabilization, which can help to improve soil health and crop productivity. However, it can also be a problematic weed that competes with crops for resources and reduces yields.

In natural settings, Lesser Swinecress can play an important role in supporting native biodiversity. The plant's flowers provide a source of nectar for pollinators, and its leaves can serve as a food source for herbivores. In addition, the plant's ability to colonize disturbed areas can help to prevent soil erosion and promote the establishment of other plant species.

Despite its potential benefits, however, Lesser Swinecress is considered a noxious weed in some regions and is subject to control measures. In the United States, for example, the plant is listed as a noxious weed in several states and is targeted for eradication or control. Control methods may include herbicide application, manual removal, or prevention of seed production.

Lesser Swinecress is a small but interesting plant that has important ecological and economic implications. While it can provide valuable ecological services and may have medicinal properties, it can also be a problematic weed that can reduce crop yields and compete with native species. Understanding the complex interactions between Lesser Swinecress and other species in different ecosystems is important for effective management and conservation of biodiversity.

One interesting aspect of Lesser Swinecress is its historical use in traditional medicine. The plant has been used for centuries as a remedy for various ailments, including respiratory infections, rheumatism, and digestive issues. It has also been used as a diuretic and a blood purifier.

More recently, scientific research has been conducted to investigate the potential health benefits of Lesser Swinecress. For example, one study found that an extract of the plant had anti-inflammatory properties and was effective in reducing inflammation in rats with induced edema. Another study found that the plant contained compounds with anti-tumor properties, which could potentially be used in cancer treatment.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Lesser Swinecress has also been used as a food source. The plant is edible, and its leaves can be used in salads, soups, and stews. In some parts of the world, the plant is also used as a spice, and the seeds can be ground into a powder and added to dishes for flavor.

Overall, Lesser Swinecress is a plant with a rich history and many potential uses. While its weedy nature can be problematic in some settings, it also has ecological and economic value, as well as potential health benefits. As our understanding of the plant continues to evolve, we may discover new applications for it in medicine, agriculture, and other fields.


Lesser Swinecress filmed at Capernwray, Lancashire on the 17th July 2022.


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