Wild Mustard or Bastard Cabbage


Austin, United States

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Found on a roadside in north Austin, Tx. I was actually trying to capture a photo of the tiny bee. This plant is a POISONOUS, and an invasive species. But it is really colorful. It is used in Jamaica for deworming, but if not used carefully, in very small amounts, can be lethal. Lime juice or Castor Oil will counter the effect. Note: This is NOT the species used in cultivated, edible Mustard plants.

From Wikipedia:

Rapistrum rugosum is a species of flowering plant in the mustard family known by the common names annual bastard cabbage, common giant mustard or turnipweed. It is native to Eurasia and parts of Africa, and it is present throughout the world as an introduced species and a common weed. It is an invasive species in many areas. It is an annual herb producing an erect stem reaching up to about a meter tall. The leaves are variable in shape and size and the proximal blades are generally cut into lobes or divided into leaflets. The herbage is coated in rough hairs. The inflorescence is a raceme of flowers with dark-veined yellow petals each under a centimeter long. The fruit is a knoblike spherical ribbed silique borne on a long pedicel with a widened area where it joins the fruit.

I’ve been observing that however small the flower, there’s usually a bee that tiny to harvest the nectar. One of those wonders only a Creator could come up with. Anyway, that’s why I decided to check out this very tiny bug in this wild mustard plant. I could not make out what this little guy was with the naked eye, but the camera does indeed reveal…a very tiny BEE! This one, I think, becomes the tiniest bee I’ve ever seen. For an idea of size, the flower cluster he’s on has been magnified maybe 15X in a macro. Each flower cluser is about the size of a thumbnail, some a bit bigger.

from an Ontario government site:

(Keeping in mind there are MANY species of Wild Mustard, and the one featured here is NOT edible.)
Wild mustard is regarded as palatable in young stages, but seeds may cause serious illness in livestock if ingested in large quantities. Wild mustard seed poisoning has the symptoms of severe gastroenteritis due to toxic compounds including Allylisothiocyanate, Sinapine, and Sinalbin. Symptoms such as severe pain, salivation, diarrhea and irritation of the mouth may appear soon after ingestion of a toxic amount and could eventually result in death.

Wild mustard is an alternative host for a number of pests including insects, nematodes, fungi, viruses and bacteria that cause damage to cultivated crops, especially members of the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) family. Important crop members include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage.

Wild mustard also has beneficial aspects. Flowers of wild mustard are a prime source of pollen and nectar, making them a desirable site for pollinating insects. In Europe, wild mustard is used as a leafy vegetable, and oil from seeds is used for making soap, cooking and as a lubricant.

from Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture:

Uses and Values: Wild mustard seeds are utilized by ground-foraging birds and small mammals without poisoning. Foliage is eaten by rabbits and deer.

Poisoning: Sheep and swine have been reported to suffer gastroenteritis caused by allyl isothiocyanate after ingesting the seeds.

Historical: Young shoots were sometimes eaten by pioneers after boiling.

from Flowers-cs.com:

MUSTARD (mus’turd) is any of several herbaceous plants of the genus Brassica of the mustard family (Cruciferae). This family includes many familiar garden plants, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, radishes, and turnips. The many species of mustard plants range in height from a few inches to several feet. The flowers are usually white or yellow. The seeds are contained in elongated pods.

Various species of mustard are cultivated. The leaves may be used as greens, and the seeds are crushed for their oil or for making the familiar condiment table mustard. In the United States, table mustard is made mainly from the seeds of white mustard (Brassica hirta) and black mustard (B. nigra). Both species originated in the Mediterranean region or in the Middle East, where they have been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. Indian, or leaf, mustard (B. juncea) is probably native to Africa. It is grown for its tasty greens.

Mustard oil is used in the manufacture of soap, rubber substitutes, and leather and woolen goods. The seeds of black mustard, when treated a particular way, produce the irritating mustard gas used during World War I. The ancients believed mustard had special healing powers, and they used it for a number of afflictions. Today it is used still in mustard plasters.

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