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Lepidium - (L.)Desv.

Common Name Hoary Cress, Whitetop
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A weed of arable fields, it is spreading rapidly in Britain[17].
Range Europe - Mediterranean to W. Asia. Naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Lepidium Hoary Cress, Whitetop

Lepidium Hoary Cress, Whitetop


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Lepidium is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from May to June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, insects. 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 moist soil.


Lepidium draba.


Edible Uses

Young leaves and shoots - raw in salads or cooked as a potherb[2, 61, 105, 183]. A report says that the young leaves contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide, though does not give any more details[240]. In small quantities this substance is fairly harmless, and has even been recommended as having health benefits, but caution is suggested if you eat these leaves[K]. The pungent leaves are used as a seasoning[183]. The seed is used as a condiment, it is a pepper substitute[2, 17, 61, 74, 148, 183].

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Fresh weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 82.3%
  • Protein: 5.8g; Fat: 1g; Carbohydrate: 8.7g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 0g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 28.6mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 2970mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.11mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.17mg; Niacin: 1mg; B6: 0mg; C: 87mg;
  • Reference: [ 240]
  • Notes:

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.

The plant is antiscorbutic[240]. The seeds have been used as a cure for flatulence and fish poison[240]. It is assumed that this report is referring to food poisoning caused by eating suspect fish[K].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Succeeds in a sunny position in most soils.


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Seed - sow in situ in spring. There is very little need to encourage this plant, it is a rapidly spreading weed in Britain. Division in spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Hoary cress, Srdasica, White weed, globed-podded hoarycress, peppergrass, whitetop, whiteweed.

Found In

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

Afghanistan, Africa, Argentina, Armenia, Asia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Balkans, Belgium, Bosnia, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Central Asia*, China, Egypt, Europe, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kashmir, Kazakstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Mediterranean, Netherlands, North Africa, North America, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South America, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tasmania, Turkey, Turkmenistan, USA, Uzbekistan, Yemen, 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.

Noxious Weed Information. In the US it is a noxious weed in the following areas: Alaska (whitetop) Noxious weed. Arizona (globe-podded hoary cress) Prohibited noxious weed. (globe-podded hoary cress, whitetop) Restricted noxious weed. California (lens podded hoarycress) B list (noxious weeds). Colorado (hoary cress) B list (noxious weeds). Idaho (hoary cress) Noxious weed. Iowa (perennial pepper-grass) Primary noxious weed. Kansas (hoary cress) Noxious weed. Montana (whitetop, hoary cress) Category 1 noxious weed. Nevada (whitetop, hoary cress) Noxious weed. New Mexico (hoary cress) Class A noxious weed. Oregon (whitetop, hoary cress) "B" designated weed (whitetop, hoary cress) Quarantine. South Dakota (hoary cress) Noxious weed (hoary cress) Regulated non-native plant species. Utah (hoary cress) Noxious weed. Washington (hoary cress) Class C noxious weed. Wyoming (hoary cress, whitetop) Noxious weed. A weed in much of south-east and south-west Australia

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Lepidium apetalum 22
Lepidium campestrePepperwort, Field pepperweed20
Lepidium chilense 10
Lepidium densiflorumCommon Pepperweed21
Lepidium diffusum 20
Lepidium fremontiiDesert Pepperweed20
Lepidium graminifoliumGrassleaf pepperweed20
Lepidium hyssopifoliumHyssopleaf pepperweed10
Lepidium iberis 11
Lepidium incisum 10
Lepidium intermedium 20
Lepidium latifoliumDittander, Broadleaved pepperweed31
Lepidium meyeniiMaca53
Lepidium nitidumShining Pepperweed, Howell's pepperweed20
Lepidium oleraceum 20
Lepidium perfoliatumClasping pepperweed11
Lepidium rotundumVeined Peppercress20
Lepidium ruderaleNarrow Leaved Peppergrass, Rroadside pepperweed21
Lepidium sativumCress, Gardencress pepperweed31
Lepidium virginicumWild Pepper Grass, Virginia pepperweed, Intermediate pepperweed, Menzies' pepperweed, Hairy pepperwe22


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Subject : Lepidium  
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