[Market-farming] What is this plant?

Marlin Burkholder glenecofarm at planetcomm.net
Sat Nov 22 14:36:21 EST 2003

> Around here it's simply called "Creasy Greens".

We have creasy greens here also.  Also known as upland cress or winter
cress.  It is an entirely different plant from the one I'm wanting to know
about, although it grows the same time of year and in the same kinds of
places (last summer's cultivated fields).  One source I checked ("Magic and
Medicine of Plants", Readers Digest copyright 1986) mentioned recent
research that indicates that eating large quantities of winter cress may
harm the kidneys and that it should be treated as a potentially poisonous
plant.  I know this flies in the face of those whose folks have eaten
"creasy greens"  for years.  This is why I want to nail down the
identification (of my plant) and anything that may be known about it's
safety or hazards before I begin promoting it as an edible plant.

The plant I'm investigating is much more compact and the leaves and stems
are much more delicate than those of creasy greens.  Also the flowers of
this plant are white instead of yellow like those of upland cress.  The
leaves and stems are more reminiscent of those of chickweed (which also
grows in abundance around here this time of year).  Picked at the right
stage, this plant makes a beautiful presentation, has a mildly pleasant
cress flavor and would make a wonderful addition to a raw salad of mixed
greens.  I don't think it would work well as a cooked green.  There is a
somewhat bitter aftertaste if one chews a mouthful alone and thoroughly.
This would not likely be noticeable if it was eaten in a mixture.  This
might explain the name "bittercress" if my hunch is correct that this plant
is indeed of the "Cardamine" genus.  Upland cress belongs to the "Barbarea"
genus if I'm not mistaken.

Marlin Burkholder

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