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Descurainia pinnata - (Walter.)Britton.

Common Name Tansy Mustard, Western tansymustard, Menzies' tansymustard.
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards The plant is said t be toxic to livestock, causing symptoms similar to selenium poisoning[274]. Known as blind staggers or paralyzed tongue, the animals can become blind, wander aimlessly and lose the ability to swallow[274].
Habitats Most areas and situations[60], usually in dry soils[94].
Range Western N. America.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Descurainia pinnata Tansy Mustard,  Western tansymustard, Menzies

Descurainia pinnata Tansy Mustard,  Western tansymustard, Menzies
Patrick J. Alexander @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Descurainia pinnata is a ANNUAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft). 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: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.


Sisymbrium canescens. Walt. Sophia halictorum. S. pinnata.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

Young leaves - cooked[46, 61, 85, 94, 183]. A bitter flavour[85]. Eaten as greens in the spring, they are said to have a salty flavour[216, 257]. The seedpods make an interesting mustard-flavoured nibble[183]. Seed - raw or cooked. Used as a piñole[257]. The seed has a mustard flavour and can be used to flavour soups or as a condiment with corn[92, 257]. The seed can also ground into a powder, mixed with cornmeal and used to make bread, or as a thickening for soups etc[85, 92, 94, 183]. In Mexico the seeds are made into a refreshing drink with lime juice, claret and syrup[61, 183]. The seeds are said to taste somewhat like black mustard and were utilized as food by Native American peoples such as the Navajo.

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.

Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Odontalgic;  Poultice;  Stomachic.

Diuretic, expectorant, poultice[94]. The ground up seeds have been used in the treatment of stomach complaints[257]. A poultice of the plant has been used to ease the pain of toothache[257]. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a wash on sores[257].

Other Uses

The flowers are attractive to butterflies. Tansymustard is toxic to grazing animals in large quantities due to nitrates and thiocyanates; however, it is a nutritious in smaller amounts. See known hazards above.

Cultivation details

We have almost no information on this species but judging by its native range it should succeed in most parts of Britain and is probably not too fussy about soil or situation. We suggest growing it in a dry to moist soil in a sunny position.


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Seed - sow spring in situ.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Tansy mustard, Mountain tansy mustard, Tansy Mustard, Western tansymustard, Menzies' tansymustard, Nelson's tansymustard, Payson's tansymustard

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Argentina, Mexico, North America, South America, USA,

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.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. Some evidence in Nebraska and Illinois, USA.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed for the IUCN Red List. USDA Threatened and Endangered Information: Ohio, US - tansy-mustard: Threatened

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