We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Descurainia sophia - (L.)Webb. ex Prantl.

Common Name Flixweed, Herb sophia
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Waste ground and roadsides[17].
Range Europe to Asia. Possibly native to Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Descurainia sophia Flixweed, Herb sophia

Descurainia sophia Flixweed, Herb sophia


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Descurainia sophia is a ANNUAL/BIENNIAL growing to 0.9 m (3ft). It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs). The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Sisymbrium sophia.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Seed  Shoots
Edible Uses: Condiment

Young leaves and shoots - cooked[105, 272]. A bitter flavour[85]. Used as a potherb[183, 257]. Seed - raw or cooked[46]. A pungent taste, it is used as a mustard substitute[61, 74, 105, 183]. The seed can be ground into a powder, mixed with cornmeal and used to make bread, or as a thickening for soups etc[61, 85, 183]. It can also be sprouted and added to salads etc[183]. A nourishing and cooling beverage can be made by mixing the ground up seeds with water to make a thin batter[257]. The seed contains 25.5 - 29.9% protein, 26.9 - 39.7% fat and 3.6 - 3.9% ash on a zero moisture basis[218].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Dry weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 27.5g; Fat: 33g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 3.7g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes: The figures given here are median figures of a range that was given in the report.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiasthmatic  Antiscorbutic  Antitussive  Astringent  Cardiotonic  Demulcent  Diuretic  Dysentery  
Febrifuge  Laxative  Poultice  Vermifuge

A poultice of the plant has been used to ease the pain of toothache[257]. The juice of the plant has been used in the treatment of chronic coughs, hoarseness and ulcerated sore throats[4]. A strong decoction of the plant has proved excellent in the treatment of asthma[4]. The flowers and the leaves are antiscorbutic and astringent[218, 240]. The seed is considered to be cardiotonic, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative, restorative and tonic[218, 240]. It is used in the treatment of asthma, fevers, bronchitis, oedema and dysentery[176, 240]. It is also used in the treatment of worms and calculus complaints[240]. It is decocted with other herbs for treating various ailments[218]. The seeds have formed a special remedy for sciatica[4]. A poultice of the ground up seeds has been used on burns and sores[257].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses


A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed[240]. Yields are not given[K]. The leaves have been stored with corn to prevent it from going bad[257]. D. sophia is a tertiary genetic relative of rape (Brassica napus) (Warwick et al. 2009). Given its moderate palatability to livestock (Pfister et al., 1990), this species is likely to have limited economic value for animal husbandry [1d].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

We have very little information on the needs of this species but, judging by its habitat it should succeed in most soils in a fairly sunny position.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in situ.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Flaxweed tansymustard; flixweed tansymustard; herb-Sophia; herb-sophia; pinnate tansymustard. Spanish: ajenjo loco; ajenjo serifio; hieba de la sabiduría; hierba de los cirujanos; Sofia. French: descurainie sagesse; sagesse-des-chirurgiens; sisymbre sagesse. Portuguese: erva-Sofia. China: bo niang hao. Denmark: barberforstand; finbladet vejsennep. England and Wales: piblys. Finland: litutilli. Germany: Besenrauke; Sophienkraut. Iceland: Þefjurt. Italy: erba Sofia. Japan: kujira-gusa. Korea, Republic of: jaessug. Netherlands: Sofiekruid. Norway: hundesennep. Scotland: finéal muire. Spain: herba de la sabiduria; herba de Santa Sofia. Sweden: stillfrö. Also: Khubkallana, Masino tori jhar, Mihao, Thale cress, Yinchen.

Afghanistan, Africa, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Asia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Caucasus, Central Asia, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, Estonia, Europe, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Himalayas, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Africa, North America, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Siberia, Slovakia, South America, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, USA, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Classified as a noxious weed in Colorado and Minnesota, USA as well as in Canada. It is considered invasive in Mexico, Japan, Republic of Korea, Chile and Australia. an annual pioneer herb that colonises disturbed sites and is adapted to growing in dry environments. It is also a crop pest and can facilitate the establishment of other introduced species [1d].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Descurainia antarctica Annual0.1 -  LMSNDM20 
Descurainia incanaMountain Tansy MustardAnnual/Biennial1.0 -  LMHSNDM21 
Descurainia pinnataTansy Mustard, Western tansymustard, Menzies' tansymustard.Annual0.6 0-0  LMHSNDM211

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(L.)Webb. ex Prantl.

Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

   Tue Nov 10 2009

I WANT a articel about Descurainina sophia about 10page

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Descurainia sophia  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.