American Land-cress

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Sunday 27th April, 2008

flowersleavesflower details

Land-cressLand-cressLAST YEAR was the first time we’d tried growing American Land-cress and I’d certainly grow it again. From a two-foot square of one of the raised beds (left) we got plenty of peppery-tasting leaves for sandwiches and salads. The plants have now started flowering but, rather than throw them straight on the compost heap, I’d like to pick the leaves, which are still fresh-looking and peppery-tasting, and make them into the Land-cress version of watercress soup.

Are they really crucifers (mustard family) as they at first appear? I felt that some of the flowers had a figwort kind of look to them but, no, that’s just the way these particular flowers were growing; they have four petals in the cross-shaped arrangement that gives the crucifers their name. With a hand lens I could see one stigma surrounded by six stamens each of which had a slipper-shaped anther (pollen-bearing organ) at the end of it.

beeThere was no striking banding on this bumble-bee. As it paused on the lip of a Land-cress flower it carefully unfurled its tongue which about the same proportion to its head an body as an elephant’s trunk is to the elephant.