Sinapis arvensis (weed)

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Sinapis arvensis flowers (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Olivier Pichard
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Sinapis arvensis L. - (wild mustard)

The species is an important cruciferous weed native to the Old World which now has a world-wide distribution. It is particularly common in temperate regions and can be a problem in cereals and various other crops. Yields may be reduced by 50% at high weed densities (e.g. 20 plants per m2). In addition, it is a host of various fungal diseases and insect pests of crops. On the other hand, S. arvensis can be an important source of honey and pollen for bees.

A plant can produce up to 20,000 seeds per year. These disperse through the wind or by agricultural activities and remain viable for up to 10 years. The weed can build up a very persistent seed bank, but the seeds only germinate close to the surface. For control, herbicides or mowing are effective. However, herbicide resistance has been reported in several populations.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Acker-Senf
• English: wild mustard
charlock
• Español: mostaza de los campos
• Français: moutarde des champs

The plant grows to a height of 20-60 cm. The upper leaves are broadly triangular, short without petioles. The lower leaves have petioles, are lobed and up to 20 cm long. The flowers are bright yellow with 4 petals. The pods are 3-5 cm long, hairless with a long pointed tip. They contain around 10 black, spherical seeds, 1-1½ mm in diameter with a fine surface texture. Cotyledons are kidney-shaped.

Synonyms:
Brassica kaber

For a review see Warwick et al., 2000.