Ontario Weeds: Wormseed mustard

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Caution
  9. For more information...

Name: Wormseed mustard, Erysimum cheiranthoides L.,

Other Names: ERYCH, vélar fausse giroflée, Treacle mustard, vélar giroflée

Family: Mustard Family (Cruciferae

General Description: Annual or winter annual, reproducing only by seed. It is distinguished from other mustards by its slender leaves which do not clasp the stem, the 2-branched hairs on the stems and 3-branched hairs on leaves which can be seen with magnification, a slightly bluish-green cast to leaves and stems, the small, pale yellow flowers, and the slender, angular seedpods about 2 cm (4/5 in.) long which are tipped with a short blunt beak.

Photos and Pictures

Wormseed mustard. A. plant beginning ot flower. B. elongating inflorescences with seedpods.
Wormseed mustard.
A. plant beginning ot flower. B. elongating inflorescences with seedpods.

Wormseed mustard.

Wormseed mustard. A. Plane. B. Seedling. C. Young plant.
Wormseed mustard.
A. Plane. B. Seedling. C. Young plant.


Stems & Roots: Stems 15 - 100 cm (6 - 40 in.) high, erect, usually branched, firm, apparently hairless but slightly rough due to tiny, flat-lying, 2-branched hairs; leaves alternate (1 per node), nearly linear or broader near the middle and tapering to both ends, without teeth or with a few wavy or slightly pointed teeth, slightly rough on both surfaces with tiny 3-branched hairs.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers similar to those of Wild mustard but paler yellow and much smaller, about 6 mm (¼ in.) across and crowded in clusters at the ends of the stems and branches, these lengthening as the pods begin to develop; seedpods on slender stalks about 1 cm (2/5 in.) long which stand out from the stem, the pod itself standing upwards or nearly parallel to the stem, 15-25 mm (3/5-1 in.) long, usually somewhat 4-angled in cross-section and tipped by a short blunt beak; seeds dull reddish-yellow, very small, about 1 mm (1/25 in.) long and usually less than half as wide. Flowers from mid-June to late autumn and sheds mature seeds soon after flowering begins; plants often turning purplish at maturity.

Habitat: Wormseed mustard is common throughout Ontario, growing in a very wide variety of habitats from dry, rocky, shallow soils to moist sandy shores, to rich loam and clays, and is found in grainfields, hay and pastureland, waste places, gardens, poorly kept lawns, roadsides and railways, riversides, sandy beaches and limestone talus.

Caution: Every effort should be made to prevent Wormseed mustard from going to seed in fields of oats or barley where these cereal grains may be used for feeding pigs. Seeds of Wormseed mustard have an extremely bitter taste, and when feed is contaminated by a very small fraction of a percentage of Wormseed mustard seeds, pigs will refuse to eat it. Apparently cattle and horses can tolerate larger proportions of Wormseed mustard than can pigs.

For more information...

... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds

... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

...on weeds in field crops, contact Mike Cowbrough (mike.cowbrough@ontario.ca), Weed Management Specialist (Field Crops), OMAFRA
...on weeds in horticultural crops, contact Kristen Callow(kristen.callow@ontario.ca), Weed Management Specialist (Hort Crops), OMAFRA

| Back to the Ontario Weeds Gallery |

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca